by Jim Breslo
In his State of the Union speech last week, many observed that President Joe Biden sounded a lot like Donald Trump. He revved up the hall by exclaiming, “buy American,” “fund the police,” “secure the border,” and “keep our schools open!”
Biden has apparently realized that the progressive polices he has pursued in his first year are not popular. His approval rating is just 39 percent.
The speech may be a preview of the Democrat strategy heading into this year’s elections. In California, we already see politicians tacking to the right. State and local officials are finally lifting COVID mandates. It comes much later than most states, and significant mandates remain in place.
Los Angeles still requires proof of vaccine to enter restaurants, gyms, bars, movie theaters, hair salons and other businesses, though the City Council is considering removing the requirement. And L.A. still requires that all children in public school wear masks. This requirement can only be removed with the consent of the powerful teachers’ union, which maintains that children without masks put their teachers at risk.
So, it remains to be seen if there has been a change in thinking by Democrats about mandates or just a caving to political pressure.
We also see California Democrats running away from the defund the police movement. At the recent Los Angeles mayoral debate, all five candidates supported adding police officers. Many Democrats are now acting as if they never supported defunding the police. The problem is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are all on record supporting the defund movement, and Mayor Eric Garcetti actually did it, reducing the police budget by $150 million. So, again, one must question the true motive behind their apparent change of heart.
We also see state Democrats changing their tune about the homeless problem. In the past they maintained that the problem is a lack of affordable housing. Rather than enforcing loitering and no camping laws, they focused on building showers for them on city sidewalks. Their solutions included mainstay progressive policies, like building permanent government housing, rent control, and eviction restrictions. They have not worked.
Now you hear Los Angeles mayoral and council candidates promoting clearing encampments and focusing on temporary shelter and treatment. Governor Gavin Newsom last week released an ambitious new plan that would require many homeless to receive mental health and addiction services. This is a rare admission that addiction and mental illness are the primary drivers of the homeless problem.
Newsom tweeted about his plan, “California is taking a major step forward to support mental health and fight homelessness. Care Court is a better way of getting people the mental health help they need. It’s court-ordered services, drug treatment, and housing with compassion.”
Voters have reason to be skeptical of these shifts. Despite Biden’s cry to buy American, he has done nothing to change his administration’s anti-American energy policies despite skyrocketing prices. Rather than buy American, he looks to rogue nations for more oil. It took him twelve days to ban the purchase of Russian oil after its invasion of Ukraine, despite his own acknowledgement that we had been effectively subsidizing Putin’s war. And he is reaching out to Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia for increased production.
Further, while Biden says he wants to secure our border, the flow of illegal immigrants continues. His “catch and release” policy remains intact while he refuses to support Trump’s “reman in Mexico” policy. His State of the Union promise to “secure the border” turns out to really be a plan for amnesty to nearly all who have illegally entered the country.
Will Democrats paying lip service to conservative principles pay off? It comes down to whether voters will trust them to actually implement these policies or choose instead to elect those who have been advocating for them all along.