Biden’s decline, the high stakes of political deception and how it affects SA: Shawn Hagedorn

In recent years, political leaders from Theresa May to Joe Biden have exploited oppressor-versus-oppressed narratives to maintain power, often dodging accountability for falsehoods. While Boris Johnson’s deceitful Brexit strategy secured a deal, his eventual downfall came from exposure of lockdown breaches. Similarly, Biden’s decline and perceived deception could lead to severe Democratic losses. As scrutiny increases, the Left faces a reckoning over their leaders’ failings and media biases.

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By Shawn Hagedorn*

The Left’s framing issues around oppressor-versus-oppressed narratives requires that their leaders be trusted.

Politicians are rarely penalised for lying; rather, they routinely get away with real whoppers. Conversely, voters discovering they’ve been systematically duped can lead to serious electoral repercussions.

Theresa May’s scruples seemed to hinder her ability to withdraw the UK from the EU. Her successor, Boris Johnson, displayed an expansive capacity to fabricate narratives and this aided his negotiating a “skinny” Brexit arrangement that the parties could accept. Johnson was forced out when the public learned he and his team had socialized merrily during the worst of the lockdown. The last straw seemed to be a tax hike amid spiking inflation.

Millions watched US President Joe Biden debate former President Donald Trump and realised they had been duped into thinking Biden was steady and alert. Many Democrats now expect their party will lose the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

As with President Nixon’s ignoble White House exit half a century ago, once a cover-up operation is discovered, many careers suffer. Biden’s diminished capacity is not a crime. But if he doesn’t drop out of the race, his party will pay a heavy price.

Willingly ignored

US voters should question if Biden can complete the last six months of his term in office. This highlights how aggressive it is for him to be pursuing another four years as president. A critical background consideration is that tens of millions of his supporters willingly ignored abundant public evidence of his accelerating decline.

That Biden crisply delivered his State of the Union speech in March contrasted with much mumbling before and after. As with many elderly people suffering from diminished capacity, the US’s current president has long mixed bouts of vigour with weaker moments. His decline has followed a general pattern common among octogenarians.

Much of the political fallout is now focusing on “who knew what and when did they know it?” There can be little doubt that those who regularly interact with the president would have long been aware of his accelerating decline. That includes not just those who are part of his family and administration but also those in the Washington press corps.

Reports are also surfacing of world leaders having privately shared concerns that Biden’s decline had been accelerating throughout his presidency. The broader contention, being aired publicly and around dinner tables, is that Biden’s decline was obvious to anyone who wasn’t in denial. Have Democrats so wanted to defeat Trump that they were willing to ignore Biden’s declining capacity? How can the answer not be yes?

Scrutiny

If Biden doesn’t exit the race soon, he could trigger much introspection among his supporters. A near majority of adult Americans could soon be pondering whether they weren’t being complacent to the point of being complicit. Media organisations won’t easily avoid these topics. Rather, they will want to swiftly reaffirm their journalistic seaworthiness amid waves of introspection and mea culpas.

If Biden stays in the race for another four months, loses badly, and then waddles around the White House until his term ends January 20, that would subject the Democrats’ progressive agenda to heightened scrutiny. Their most popular talking points would be freshly assessed against a backdrop of “what else did you lie to us about?”

Trump is a deeply flawed candidate, but this has been widely acknowledged for a long time. What is new is the realisation that most of the media and much of the public have been quite willing to ignore Biden’s accelerating decline. It has long been clear that he should not have sought a second term.

Though US media executives and political publicists can craft persuasive narratives, many such people will have a terrible problem if Biden doesn’t soon drop out. Across the US, family members and friends will be consoling one another for the political equivalent of a tsunami of successful phishing scams. There will also be much scrutiny of the back scratching between the Democratic Party and much of mainstream media.

Biases

The Left’s dominance of how information is curated was shaken when many university administrators and faculty members exposed hateful biases in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 atrocities. Many centrist Democrats and independents were horrified that elite universities bred such hateful bigotry.

With half the world’s population voting this year, the Right shows signs of momentum across much of Europe and North America. The polls currently favour the Republicans for the White House and the Senate. The House of Representatives is a toss-up. The Democrats can win it, but they need Biden to drop out soon.

President Ramaphosa and those around him have continued the trend of the ANC undermining its own interests and those of South Africa. They also have an open secret: the lack of a solution for the world’s worst youth unemployment crisis. Like the Democrats in the US, the ANC is now subject to much more scrutiny, and they are suddenly much less able to dominate how issues are framed.

The executive and legislative branches of the US government look likely to swing from divided-and-leaning-left to either divided-and-leaning-right or firmly to the right. Both the ANC and the Democrats need to appreciate that their traditional supporters feel they have been duped.

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Shawn Hagedorn* has been regularly writing articles in leading SA publications, focusing primarily on economic development

This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission