Is Joe Biden really the 21st century Jimmy Carter?


Only time will tell if Joe Biden can recover from the Afghanistan crisis and surprise his critics next year, as Carter did in 1978.

by Allen Therisa in History

Joe Biden, a politician in the spotlight
Joe Biden, a politician in the spotlight

As US President Joe Biden finished his first hundred days in office, critics, mainly on the Right, began to formulate opprobrium of the president, claiming that he was morphing into a kind of modern-day Jimmy Carter, with the country descending into a chaotic repeat of the late 1970s, this time under Biden's leadership.

It is a charge which has served to unite a Republican Party disorientated by four years of Donald Trump as President and a 2020 general election that was fractious and controversial both in delivery and outcome. Fox News, the US's most popular rolling news station, is a key player in the political battles between Left and Right in the States and has recently made a repeated criticism along the "Biden is Carter" line, as well as drawing parallels with the experience of the country in the late 1970s.

And this was before the recent Afghanistan crisis and the questions it has generated on the Left and Right about Biden's competence in office.

But how accurate is this characterisation, particularly as Joe Biden is so early into his presidency, and perhaps more importantly, how similar are the historical circumstances as a backdrop to each presidential term?

Democratic President Carter came to power in 1976, somewhat as a rejection on the part of the electorate of the controversial Nixon presidency from 1972 to 1974 and his successor in office (and former Vice President) Gerald Ford. Prior to Carter coming to power, the Democrats had struggled against the Republicans since the crisis of Vietnam engulfed the Democratic party, particularly because Vietnam had been a foreign policy failure on the part of the previous Democratic administration under Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1968, with the Vietnam War at its height, Richard Nixon beat Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey by a slim margin, after Johnson declined to seek re-election. The election took place against the backdrop of the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and violent protests outside the Chicago Democratic National Convention, during which Humphrey won the Democratic candidacy.

As well as Nixon becoming president that year, the Republican Party also picked up seats in the House and Senate in the general election. Four years later, Nixon would improve on this performance by winning the 1972 election in a landslide, which was an even bigger shock for the divided Democratic Party than its previous close election defeat.

Beating Democratic candidate George McGovern in 1972, Nixon took nearly 61% of the popular vote, with the Republican Party picking up seats in the House (though the Democratic Party managed to retain control of Congress). It was also in this election that Joe Biden first won election to the United States Senate (in itself a sobering sign of how long the current president had been active in professional politics).

By 1972 public support for US involvement in Vietnam had fallen substantially, as demonstrated by the Gallup Organisation, which indicated in its polling that prior to the Tet Offensive, most Americans were generally supportive of the US war effort.

By February 1968, the nation had already started to show signs of division over the issue, and by 1970 most Americans who responded to polling concerning Vietnam agreed that sending US troops to fight in the country was a mistake (24% thought this in 1965, 46% in 1968 and 60% in 1971).

Source: CBS/Gallup

By the time of the 1972 election, Nixon had become hugely popular with what he had, by then, characterised as a "silent majority" of voters. This "silent majority", in the context Nixon made popular, refers to an older generation of voters, as well as young people in the Midwest, West, and the South of the US (many of whom would serve in Vietnam), as well as blue-collar and white voters who did not take an active part in politics.

As a political constituency, such voters are characterised as not expressing their opinions openly. Come 2016, the silent majority would be seen as crucial to the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, and in the UK would also come to be termed "shy Tories", as they were perceived as hiding their Conservative voting intentions from opinion pollsters.

The role of the silent majority

The silent major had been speculated on for years before Nixon's 1972 election victory. The term was employed by Calvin Coolidge's campaign during the 1920 presidential nomination and in 1955, John F. Kennedy wrote in his book Profiles in Courage, "Some of them may have been representing the actual sentiments of the silent majority of their constituents in opposition to the screams of a vocal minority."

A year later, Kennedy would give Nixon an autographed copy of his book. "Your book is first on my list and I am looking forward to reading it with great pleasure and interest," Nixon wrote to Kennedy in thanks.

Come 1967, union leader George Meany was asserting that unionists such as himself who supported the Vietnam War were "the vast, silent majority in the nation" and the term was then widely popularised by Nixon two years later in a televised address.

Against the backdrop of the October Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, Nixon went on national television on 3 November 1969 to deliver a speech, during which he outlined his "plan to end the war" in Vietnam. Nixon concluded the speech by asking the public to support his policy of winning "peace with honour" in Vietnam. "And so tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support," Nixon intoned during the speech with great solemnity. "Let us be united for peace. Let us be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."

The public reaction to the speech was enthusiastic, with the White House telephone lines overwhelmed with callers congratulating the president on his speech. Nixon's approval ratings, which had been hovering around 50% before the speech, rose rapidly to 81% (and as high as 86% in the South) following it.

Beyond concerns about Vietnam, the "silent majority" is also assumed to have shared Nixon's concerns that normalcy was being eroded by changes in society championed by intellectuals, cosmopolitans, professionals, and liberals; the "Metropolitan Liberal Elites", particularly those active in the media and academia, later so pointedly criticised by Trump and his supporters during the 2016 US general election.

The Watergate overhang

From his high polling in 1972, Nixon would be forced from office two years later by the Watergate scandal, the origins of which stem from the Nixon administration's attempts to cover up its involvement in break-ins at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building.

After the break-ins, five perpetrators were arrested and the Justice Department then connected the cash found on the burglars to the Nixon re-election campaign committee.

A decisive role was played in bringing the Watergate macerations to the attention of the public by the media, particularly by The Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The resulting Senate Watergate hearings were also broadcast by PBS and attracted huge public interest.

During the hearings, witnesses testified that the president had approved plans to cover up the administration's involvement in the break-in and that there was a voice-activated taping system in the Oval Office. The US Supreme Court ruled that Nixon should release these tapes to government investigators, which then revealed that Nixon had conspired to cover up what took place after the break-in, and attempted to use federal officials to deflect the investigation itself.

Against this backdrop, the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress, leading directly to Nixon's resignation from office on 9 August 1974.

But it was the crucial connection between the break-in and the re-election committee, as highlighted by the media, and in particular by The Washington Post (as well as Time and The New York Times) which brought the scandal to the attention of the public. In some ways, it can also be argued that Woodward and Bernstein, together with their associates in the US mainstream media, fitted the characterisation of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite that Nixon had rallied his supporters against two years earlier.

By the time of Watergate, public distrust of the media polled at more than 40% in the US. Compare this with what was one of the defining characteristics of the Trump presidency, the deterioration of the relationship of the Trump White House with the same mainstream media (by this point termed "corporate media" by conservative critics), identified as being primarily The Washington Post (owned by Amazon founder Steve Bezos), The New York Times, (M)NBC, CBS, ABC and NPR, as well as Big Tech in the form of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, which have all grown in power over the past ten years.

The power of the media

Big Tech during the 2020 US general election was particularly criticised by conservatives for appearing to take on an editorial/publisher role, with critics pointing to censorship of the Hunter Biden scandal during the election (particularly on Twitter, which blocked links to New York Post's coverage of this story), the bringing down of conservative-favoured social media platform Parler (by Apple, Google, and Amazon, which all withdraw access and services to the social media platform) and Trump's acrimonious relationship with Facebook and Twitter before he was banned from both networks following the storming of the US Congress by Trump supporters on 6 January 2021.

And it is not just in the US that public confidence in mainstream media has deteriorated since the 1970s. According to The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism 2020 Report, public trust in media has also collapsed in the UK, with only 28% of people saying they trust "most news most of the time", according to a Reuters poll in January of that year (down from 40% in January 2019).

This Reuters report also found that overall trust in the media has continued to fall on a global scale. Across all 40 countries involved in the Reuters research, 38% of respondents said they trust "most news most of the time" (a fall of four percentage points since 2019), with an overall sample size of 80,155 adults and around 2,000 taking part in each country polled. Subsequent Reuters polling shows that the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily saw increased trust in mainstream news media in the early stages of lockdown, but that this fell back as the pandemic continued.

In addition, on 13 January 2021, an Edelman Trust Barometer poll revealed that business had replaced government as the most trusted institution by respondents and was seen by half of those polled as twice as competent. An Edelman Trust post-US 2020 election poll also found that the majority of Americans believed the country was in the midst of a cold civil war, with a majority of respondents stating that they believed government leaders (57%), business leaders (56%) and journalists (59%) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know to be false.

Trust in all news sources had also fallen according to this poll to record lows, with social media (35%) and owned media (41%) being the least trusted; while traditional media (53%) saw the largest drop in trust at eight percentage points. In addition, the December 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Post-US Election Flash Poll found a 39 point gap in trust demonstrated in media between Biden voters (57%) and Trump voters (18%).

"This is the era of information bankruptcy," according to Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. "We've been lied to by those in charge, and media sources are seen as politicised and biased. The result is a lack of quality information and increased divisiveness.

"Fifty-seven per cent of Americans find the political and ideological polarisation so extreme that they believe the US is in the midst of a cold civil war," Edelman continues. "The violent storming of the US Capitol and the fact that only one-third of people are willing to get a Covid vaccine as soon as possible crystallise the dangers of misinformation."

Back in the mid-70s, and at the height of the Watergate scandal, Nixon and his supporters accused the media of making "wild accusations", putting too much emphasis on the Watergate story and having a liberal bias against the Nixon Administration. Nixon would also argue later, in a May 1974 interview with Baruch Korff, that if he had followed the liberal policies that he thought the media preferred, "Watergate would have been a blip."

Against this backdrop, and the subsequent presidency of former Nixon Vice-President Gerald Ford (who went on to pardon Nixon whilst in office), Carter appeared to be an unsullied candidate outside of the Washington political establishment, offering a fresh start after the controversies of the Nixon era.

Carter, who had previously served as a Georgia State Senator between 1963 to 1967, and as governor of Georgia between 1971 to 1975, was little known outside of his home state when coming into the 1976 campaign. His eventual percentage of the vote during the election was 50.1% against Gerald Ford's 48% (compare this to the margin of Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020 of 51.3% to Trump's 46.9%).

Prior to the 1976 election, Ford had experienced a mixed tenure as President, dealing with an oil shock and US disengagement in Vietnam, as well as the Watergate backwash, and had also developed a characterisation in the media as being clumsy and accident-prone (something not helped when he fell down aircraft steps, as captured and then shown repeatedly on network television).

Biden would, in the latter stages of his first 100 days, begin to suffer a similar characterisation away from network television coverage (only this time falling up rather than down aircraft steps).

In his first 100 days in 1977, quickly moving to distance himself from the previous Nixon and Ford administrations, Carter launched a national energy policy that included energy conservation, price controls and the rolling out of new technologies (solar panels on the roof of the White House).

Similar in many ways to Biden's New Green Deal, Carter's energy programme would come apart under the pressure of a combined oil and economic crisis, not to mention the Three Mike Island nuclear accident, as the country encountered stagflation (high inflation, unemployment and slow growth), as well as foreign policy challenges in the form of the Iran hostage crisis and the end of détente following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The experience of voters at the end of Carter's presidency was different from its optimistic beginning, encouraged as voters had been by campaign rhetoric stoking expectations of a kinder, gentler future for the country. Carter had seemed to herald this fresh start for the country, together with an honest and open form of government.

On the campaign trail Carter had appeared uninterested in the Washington political establishment and successfully positioned himself as a political outsider, though once in office, Carter's modest presentational style came under heavy criticism. Perhaps more importantly, in the face of a wider crisis for western capitalism, destabilised by an inter-related economic and energy crisis, Carter's central policy of domestic energy reform both failed and became deeply unpopular with voters.

The Carter/Trump comparison

In 2016, Trump would also position himself as an outsider in the US presidential election (if from the other side of the political divide and using a more combative campaigning style than Carter). In this role, Trump attacked the Washington political establishment as failed, self-interested and corrupt; the "swamp" as Trump repeatedly called it, whilst he also argued that as an outsider he could deliver a more honest form of politics that met the voters' needs (his "America First" agenda).

If Carter's time in office can be characterised as a time of inflation and recession (even though this did not come to haunt the president until the last two years of his administration), it is also the case that under Trump the US economy boomed until later in his presidency, after the Covid-19 crisis swept in and halted this economic growth.

Carter's presidency had an economic history of roughly two equal parts; the first two years being a time of continuing recovery from the severe 1973-75 recession, with 1977 and 1978 seeing the creation of millions of new jobs (partly as a result of a $30 billion economic stimulus package that Carter had proposed) and real median household income growth of 5%. The 1979 energy crisis, however, changed this upward trajectory; inflation and interest rates both rose as a direct result, while economic growth, job creation and consumer confidence all stalled.

The sudden doubling of crude oil prices by OPEC (the world's leading oil-exporting cartel) in 1978 forced inflation up to 11.3% by 1979 and then to 13.5% by 1980. The shortage of petrol in the summer of 1979 further exacerbated this economic shock and, for many voters, came to symbolise a deeper crisis in the country under a failing administration that appeared unable to defend American interests.

Against this backdrop, Carter would go on to lose the 1980 general election to Republican Ronald Reagan in an electoral landslide and leave office as a mocked and defeatist one-term president, a charge that partly came down to two television addresses, the first of which Carter gave on 18 April 1977, during which he declared that the US energy crisis was the moral equivalent of war (just as Biden would characterise Climate Change as an existential threat in 2020). That year, Carter encouraged energy conservation, installed solar panels at the White House and made a point of wearing sweaters to offset the turning down of the central heating in the White House (a display of virtue signalling viciously ridiculed by his political opponents at the time).

Two years later, on 15 July 1979, Carter delivered a further television address, during which he claimed there to be a "crisis of confidence" among the American people. This line had been given to Carter by pollster Pat Caddell, who believed Americans faced a crisis in confidence originating in the traumatising events of the 1960s and 1970s, under previous presidents Johnson and Nixon. Carter's 1979 address, however, would come to be known as his "malaise speech", held up in stark contrast to the sunny, optimistic tone that would be adopted by Ronald Reagan running into the 1980 general election.

Pivotal mid-term elections

Forty years later and following Biden taking office in 2021, Republicans would come to comfort themselves by looking forward to the 2022 mid-term elections, whilst focussing on the Biden administration's struggles with inflation, rising levels of violent crime and border control. Prior to the Afghanistan debacle, which may or may not have resonance come November 2022 when US voters again go to the polls, critics were not so sure that 2022 would be an automatic win for the Republicans, no matter the troubles of the Biden administration to date.

In 1978, in the middle of Carter's only term as president, the Democrats surprised their critics by retaining control of both houses of Congress. Many of the newly elected members of Congress in these 1978 mid-term elections were, however, more conservative than their predecessors, supporting tax cuts to boost the economy (eventually implemented in the Regan Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981).

In this universe of political parallels, characterising Joe Biden as the new (old) Jimmy Carter clearly has the potential to cut both ways, particularly as Joe Biden's folksy contrast to the combative demeanour of his predecessor continues to satisfy many Democratic and independent voters, regardless of immediate (if potentially continuing) challenges. As for Trump, effectively characterised as a divisive and reckless figure by Democrats in its carefully orchestrated 2020 campaign, his experience as president proved to be just as controversial as Carter's, if for somewhat different reasons.

On entering office, Trump found himself under immediate and constant attack from the Washington political establishment and corporate media, forcing him to rebuke claims of Russian collusion and vote-rigging in the 2016 campaign. On the back foot almost from his inauguration, Trump and his inner circle did their best to implement the president's America First programme (jobs, peace, strong borders, law and order) and, for a while, the economy grew and Trump's poll ratings appeared to be stabilising and then improving.

Trump as iconic political shadow

A previously successful, if almost equally controversial American media personality and businessman, Trump had been widely expected to lose the 2016 presidential race to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump's political positions and aggressive style whilst campaigning in 2016 and during his time in office were described, depending on the sympathies of his critics, as authentic, populist, protectionist, isolationist and nationalist.

However, Trump also proved to be popular with voters that the Republican Party had previously struggled to reach, raising the party's vote and increasing its support amongst working class/middle class voters, as well as with black and Latino voters (itself a major move forward for the Republicans).

During his time in office, Trump enacted a tax-cut package for individuals and businesses, rescinded the individual health insurance mandate penalty of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, and signed into law criminal justice reform. In foreign policy, Trump pursued his America First agenda to the full, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also imposed import tariffs on China, withdrew US troops from Syria, and met the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (though negotiations on denuclearisation between the two eventually broke down).

After the Covid-19 crisis hit, Trump's critics and opponents came together to fight Trump's re-election, supported by a censorious corporate media (which protected the Biden campaign, particularly with regard to the suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal) and, following a controversial election with widespread changes in voting methods across the US, Trump eventually exited the political stage in 2021, claiming voter fraud and institutional collusion against him.

The media, by now expanded in the eyes of its conservative opponents to include not only Big Tech social media platforms, but also internet service providers as well as polling organisations, was attacked by such critics for playing a strategic role in the Democratic election campaign and dialling down the Hunter Biden scandal, whilst releasing polling which suppressed Republican turnout and minimising Biden's weaknesses as a candidate.

Trump would attempt to overturn the election results, making repeated claims of electoral fraud, before unsuccessfully obstructing the presidential transition process. Then, on 6 January 2021, when Congress met to confirm the electoral votes, Trump rallied supporters and encouraged them to march to the Capitol. Some did so, storming the Capitol Building, resulting in the deaths of five people and forcing Congress to evacuate.

Days later, the House impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection, making him the only federal officeholder in American history to be impeached twice (though the Senate acquitted Trump on 13 February 2021). It was a controversial end to a highly controversial presidency, though the attempts of Joe Biden and his supporters to return to a political "old normal" once in office did not go as smoothly as those supportive of the Democratic campaign would have hoped.

Characterised by many of his critics as the epitome of an establishment politician, and shielded from scrutiny during the 2020 election campaign by his allies in corporate media and Big Tech, Joe Biden followed what was described by some as a "basement strategy" during the campaign, partly due to Biden making media and appearances over the internet from the basement of his home, rather than campaigning on the ground. To many centrist and independent voters, Biden appeared during this campaign to be the antithesis of Trump; a modest, humble, softly-spoken reformer, with an agenda to heal a divided nation on a progressive platform with a Green energy policy at its heart.

It was a perception and a strategy that proved to be successful for the Democrats. Despite losing seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats retained control of it and also gained control of the Senate in 2020 and it was also the first time since the 2008 elections that the party had gained control of both Congress and the presidency.

The Covid-19 impact

Perhaps the most significant issue in the 2020 election, according to polling, was the Covid-19 crisis, which grew as an issue for voters for just under a year before they went to the polls.

On 31 December 2019, China announced the discovery of a cluster of what was characterised at the time as pneumonia cases in Wuhan. The first American case of Covid-19 was then reported on 20 January 2020, with Trump declaring the US outbreak a public health emergency at the end of the month. US restrictions were then placed on flights arriving in the US from China, though Trump's critics attacked this initial response to the pandemic as being slow, inadequate and haphazard.

The first known American deaths were recorded in February and, on 6 March, Trump signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the outbreak. Seven days later, Trump would declare a national emergency and in the middle of March, his administration began purchasing large quantities of medical equipment, before invoking the Defense Production Act to direct industries to produce medical equipment before the end of the month.

In April, Covid-19 cases had been confirmed in all US states, followed by a second rise in infections in June, and then the third increase in October, leading to daily cases reaching 100,000 by November 2020. Against this backdrop, when US voters did go to the polls, they did so in large numbers, with one projection having turnout as being higher than during any election since 1900.

Following the election, and amidst controversy and conflict on US streets, including violent protests involving Antifa and BLM activists after the George Floyd killing, Biden was elected President, even though the Trump campaign had attracted 75 million votes, in itself the highest number for a Republican campaign, as Trump is still keen to point out.

Today, Trump remains popular with a not-so-silent and large number of Republican voters and independents and continues to be a disruptive political figure in the Republican Party.

As for Biden, it was a long road for him to reach the White House, having previously run unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, before serving as President Obama's Vice-President between 2004 and 2016. Biden is also the oldest elected president to date (a fact which Trump and his allies argue was played down by Biden's corporate media supporters during the 2020 campaign).

Biden's early activity once in office centred on a series of executive orders, many of which turned over Trump policies. In addition to emergency actions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, Biden reversed rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, halted construction of the US border wall, ended the declaration of national emergency at the southern border, lifted a travel ban imposed by Trump on mainly Muslim countries, and revoking permits for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Can Joe Biden pull it off?

Central to the developing Biden presidency moving forward remains the Green New Deal and associated infrastructure programmes, which call for expensive public policy initiatives to address climate change together with job creation and economic inequality reduction measures, a lot of which are not dissimilar in principle to Carter's policy priorities in the late 1970s before they were halted and reversed following the 1980 general election.

In comparison to Trump's experience in office and its chaotic end, Carter's one-term presidency collapsed at the end of the 70s in the face of a resurgent Ronald Reagan, who came to power on an energetic Conservative wave, promising an economic and democratic revolution against what it characterised as Carter's governmental failure.

Reagan would go on, after this pivotal 1980 election to serve as president until 1989, and become a highly influential voice for modern conservatism during that time. Prior to becoming president, Regan had been a relatively famous Hollywood actor and (slightly surprisingly) a union leader, before serving as governor of California between 1967 and 1975.

In 1980, he finally won the Republican presidential nomination after previous failed attempts to do so and at 69 years of age at the time of his first inauguration, was the oldest first-term US president at that point (a distinction he held until 2017 when Donald Trump was inaugurated at the age of 70 until Biden Came into office at the age of 78).

During the 1980 election campaign, Reagan had promised that his supply-side economic platform, dubbed "Reaganomics" by some and "Voodoo economics" by Reagan's leading opponent for the candidacy, George W. Bush (who would then go on to be Regan's vice-president and the president himself in 1990) would turn the economy around with lower tax rates, economic deregulation and a reduction in government spending.

Reagan was then re-elected in 1984, winning 58.8% of the national popular vote against Democratic candidate Walter Mondale, in one of the biggest landslide victories in American political history. During his time in office, Reagan would skilfully implement sweeping political and economic initiatives, winning over conservative Democrats (that silent majority again) in the process to pass his policy programme through Congress as US inflation dropped from 12.5% to 4.4% and the country saw the longest period of economic growth in peacetime history up to that point (lasting a full 92 months).

Reagan also increased military spending (which contributed to a controversially high federal debt) and aggressively denounced Soviet communism, though foreign affairs crises would come to dominate his second term, as they had with Carter during his time in office.

Carter himself was key to Reagan's 1980 victory, portrayed early on in the campaign by Reagan as an exhausted symbol of a political class that had failed the country and damaged the economy. Reagan actually launched his 1980 campaign with a stinging attack on Carter's government, arguing that it had "overspent, overstimulated, and over-regulated".

Reagan went on to win a crushing victory over Carter, taking 44 states and 489 electoral votes to Carter's 49 electoral votes in six states, plus DC). Reagan also won the popular vote (50.7% to Carter's 41%), while his Republicans won a majority of seats in the Senate for the first time since 1952, though Democrats retained a majority in the House of Representatives.

On leaving office, in 1989, Reagan also held an approval rating of 68%, matching that of the great Democrat icon Franklin D. Roosevelt. So, is Joe Biden next year about to face a challenge in the mid-terms and then a similar Republican wave, just as Carter did in 1980?

The months leading up to those 2022 mid-terms, together with the fallout from Afghanistan (Biden's own Middle East hostage crisis), will be crucial for Biden and the Democrats. This is particularly the case with Trump still on the political stage; rested, apparently rejuvenated and lauded by his admirers, the King (or King-maker) in waiting, with the Republican Party re-established on a platform of free-market, libertarian, America First capitalism - not dissimilar to that on which Reagan won his presidency back in 1980.

Only time will tell if Joe Biden can recover from the Afghanistan crisis and surprise his critics next year, as Carter did in 1978, or whether Donald Trump (or his heir) will become the 21st century's Ronald Reagan. As Reagan himself once put it, after winning re-election in 1984, you ain't seen nothing yet. However, Joe Biden and the Democrats have three more years before the next US general election, and a lot can happen between now and 2024.

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