by Jarrett Stepman
President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, it’s a good time to ask: How has Biden done as president and what is the actual state of our union?
According to the American people, things aren’t going great.
A CNN poll in early February asked Americans what they thought of Biden’s presidency and what he’s done right since entering office Jan. 20, 2021.
The top answer by a wide margin, according to that poll—hardly likely to be skewed against Biden and Democrats—was nothing at all.
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Over half of those surveyed couldn’t come up with a single success during Biden’s first year in office.
“I’m hard-pressed to think of a single thing he has done that benefits the country,” one respondent wrote, according to CNN.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in his speech at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference that Biden was off to the worst start of any president since the 19th century, he clearly was echoing the opinion of many Americans.
Biden campaigned on a message of uniting the country, but the country seems more divided and fractured since he took office—except perhaps on appraisals of his job performance.
Biden is now hitting record-low approval ratings for a president at this point in his term.
Americans are dubious about their leadership for a reason, since more than a few national challenges and outright catastrophes may be tied directly to the failures of this president and his political allies.
Here are seven of them.
1. Border Crisis
Security at the southern border has been an ongoing disaster, though one barely given coverage by the legacy media.
The massive spike in border crossings initially was excused by Biden allies in the media as a “seasonal” problem. It was seasonal all right: open-borders season.
Since Biden took office, a historic surge of migrants has crossed the border illegally in numbers that are the highest in decades. And the problem isn’t abating.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. agents logged 153,941 migrant encounters in January. This was double the number of encounters the previous January, and quadruple the number from the January before that.
BREAKING: In a federal court filing obtained by @FoxNews, DHS reports 153,941 migrant encounters in January, almost doubling Jan. ‘21 (78,414) and more than quadruple Jan. ‘20 (36,585).
DHS also reports 62,573 migrants were released into U.S. just last month alone. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/RiEPKVsQi3
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 16, 2022
“Just three months into the 2022 fiscal year, the United States has already recorded nearly half a million southwest border encounters,” Jordan Boyd wrote at The Federalist in late January. “So far, border apprehensions in the 2022 fiscal year are on track to exceed 2 million, which would blow away the 2021 fiscal year’s already record-breaking 1.7 million apprehensions.”
The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October through the following September.
What’s remarkable about this problem is that it coincides with the Biden administration’s messaging during the pandemic about doing anything necessary to end the threat of COVID-19.
Americans in many places are forced to show their vaccine papers to go to a restaurant. The Biden administration tried to force Americans to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
At the same time, the Biden administration has been letting millions of people with no proof of vaccination—or proof of anything else—into the country.
2. Messy Afghanistan Withdrawal
Biden’s shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan was certainly one of the low points of his presidency and one of the lowest points of American foreign policy since the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
The Biden administration assured the country that the withdrawal would be orderly, and that the Afghanistan government was stable upon America’s departure.
We clearly had a massive failure of intelligence, since the Afghanistan government collapsed and the Taliban took over the country in just a few weeks.
To make matters worse, as the crisis was unfolding, Biden seemingly was nowhere to be found. The world witnessed a massive fiasco, with videos of Afghans falling off departing planes in a desperate attempt to escape, but the administration kept quiet, then made excuses.
Even reliably left-wing media figures began to question Biden’s leadership and competence on this matter. Biden struggled to answer even the most basic questions about the botched operation without getting belligerent and essentially saying there was nothing he or his advisers could have done to prevent the catastrophe.
Stephanopoulos: “You don’t think this could've been handled…better in any way?”
Biden: “No, I don’t think it could've been handled in a way…The idea that somehow there was a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.”pic.twitter.com/A9TSFe0anL
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) August 18, 2021
When Biden took office, we were assured that the “adults” were back in charge.
That’s not what it looked like when administration officials were tested by its first real foreign policy crisis. Instead, they created a crisis of confidence in American leadership.
3. Return to Energy Dependence
The Afghanistan mess wasn’t the only foreign policy debacle so far under Biden. Russia launched a major invasion of Ukraine in the days before the president’s State of the Union speech.
Unbelievably, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Biden’s climate czar, said the situation in Ukraine is worrying because Russia will be distracted from staying “on track” to fight climate change.
It’s an illustration of just how misguided the Biden administration’s priorities are.
Although the ultimate blame for the invasion remains with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden strengthened Russia’s hand with generally misguided energy policies.
In 2018, during Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States became a net exporter of oil for the first time in 75 years. Technological innovations, alongside the Trump administration’s policies to open up more opportunities for drilling while eliminating regulations, dramatically boosted American energy independence and global influence on energy issues.
Not only did this energy independence benefit Americans economically, it weakened the position of petro states such as Russia.
But the Biden administration shifted away from this strategy. It encouraged an increase in green energy projects at the expense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy. These renewable energy sources are a long way from meeting global energy needs. Biden put more regulatory burdens on the oil and natural gas industry, slowing its production considerably. And perhaps most dramatically, he shut down the Keystone XL pipeline project to move oil from Canada to the U.S. while effectively greenlighting financing of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to carry natural gas to Germany.
These moves made the U.S. and its allies more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas.
Biden now says the administration will pivot and place sanctions on Nord Stream 2. But what would things be like now if he had pursued a course that signaled the U.S. is committed to energy production and dominance from the get-go?
4. Authoritarian COVID-19 Mandates
Remember when Biden said he would shut down the COVID-19 virus and not the economy?
Well, most Americans now believe that COVID-19 is here to stay no matter what we do. This after Biden reached beyond the powers of his office to force Americans to get vaccinated and tell states to enforce the most stringent mask mandates.
Biden tried to force private employers and other organizations with over 100 or more employees to enforce a vaccine mandate, despite saying that he didn’t think it was exactly constitutional.
The Supreme Court agreed, and struck down the executive order in January.
We took our fight against Biden’s unlawful COVID vaccine mandate to the Supreme Court—and I’m thrilled the justices ruled correctly.
The federal government has no business dictating your private and personal health care decisions. https://t.co/QNtZ0tI5Jn
— Kevin Roberts (@KevinRobertsTX) January 13, 2022
Despite this kind of ham-handed Caesarism, COVID-19 has not gone away. The omicron variant spread like wildfire in the winter months and is only now receding after countless Americans, vaccinated or not, got sick.
This development certainly undermined the justification for brutish vaccine requirements and the violation of civil liberties that was surely taking place.
The result has been a collapse in the popularity of Biden’s COVID-19 strategy. Even many Democrat-controlled states and cities are starting to drop vaccine card requirements and mask mandates.
If celebrities can watch the Super Bowl in a crowded stadium without masks on, why can’t we stop forcing children to participate in this farce?
Americans are fed up and want to move on with their lives.
5. Crime Surge
American cities have experienced an explosion of violent crime since the summer of 2020.
It’s a trend that shows no sign of abating. In December, ABC News reported that a dozen U.S. cities had set homicide records in 2021.
This trend coincided with—and almost certainly was exacerbated by—the “defund the police” movement. In fact, many Democrat-run cities made good on this slogan by defunding their police departments and stemming the use of proactive policing.
No surprise that cities that defunded police agencies often make the list of places with the largest increases in violent crime. Now, some of these city leaders are changing their tune and restoring police funding after much of the damage has been done.
This hasn’t stopped reckless left-wing district attorneys, such as Chesa Boudin in San Francisco and Alvin Bragg in New York City, from selectively deciding not to prosecute crimes.
Biden mostly has dodged the idea that radical policies embraced by his Democratic Party are to blame for this issue.
Instead, Biden has pointed to the pandemic and guns as the cause of the sustained surge of violence and criminality, rather than the lawless riots and soft-on-crime policies. The president said he thinks police departments should get more money, which some took as a sign that he had departed from the message of left-wing activists.
However, Biden said in January that he thought police should get more money to hire “psychologists and social workers,” which essentially is what the defunding crowd has called for.
6. Rising Inflation
In July, Biden said inflation would be a temporary problem that his administration had a handle on.
“I want to be clear: My administration understands that were we ever to experience unchecked inflation in the long term, that would pose a real challenge for our economy,” Biden said. “While we’re confident that isn’t what we’re seeing today, we’re going to remain vigilant about any response that is needed.”
Now we’re well into the new year and, if anything, inflation is getting worse.
For most Americans, inflation has become almost impossible to ignore. Even leading Democrats have acknowledged that inflation is getting out of control.
In December, inflation hit 7%, the highest it has been since 1982. But this isn’t the same situation as in the 1980s.
We are on the other side of the wave, as The Wall Street Journal has noted. In 1982, inflation had fallen from its peak of 14.8% in 1980, the last year of Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency.
Correcting course required tight monetary policies from the Federal Reserve and a quick but sharp recession to pull the country out of the spiral.
“Upon becoming Federal Reserve chairman in 1979, Paul Volcker set out to crush inflation with tight monetary policy,” Greg Ip wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “In combination with credit controls, that effort pushed the U.S. into a brief recession in 1980. Then, as the Fed’s benchmark interest rate reached 19% in 1981, a much deeper recession began. By the summer of 1982, inflation and interest rates were both falling sharply. Four decades of generally low-single-digit inflation would follow.”
Today, inflation is rising, not falling. And it’s been exacerbated by the policies of the Biden administration, rather than being lessened as it was in 1981 by the policies of the Reagan administration.
Rachel Greszler, an economics expert at The Heritage Foundation, explains that Biden and his legislative allies are making a bad situation worse:
Having already stimulated greater demand for goods and services with $5.5 trillion in so-called COVID-19 spending while simultaneously restricting the labor supply through welfare-without-work policies and COVID-19 unemployment benefits that discouraged a return to work, the Biden administration and progressive lawmakers are pursuing more of the same. Their big-government socialism Build Back Better Act, increased regulations, and command-economy tactics would all exacerbate inflation.
Biden is starting to change his tune about the whole “temporary” thing about today’s inflation.
But he chose this path, and now the country is paying the consequences.
7. War on Parents
Violent crime is spinning out of control, but the Justice Department clearly doesn’t see that as the real threat to this country.
No, the real threat is parents who disagree with what’s happening in their local schools.
Parents around the country, even in far-left San Francisco, have been organizing in response to the misguided and often egregious policies of many K-12 schools.
From the inclusion of critical race theory and similar racialized ideas in classroom curriculum to over-the-top COVID-19 restrictions that forced students to stay home for over a year or wear masks all day long, parents are fed up.
The result has been old-fashioned self-government in action.
However, the response from the left has been to call transparency a threat to democracy, demonize parents, and threaten them with an FBI investigation.
In October, Attorney General Merrick Garland sent out a memo calling on the FBI to investigate “violent threats against school officials and teachers,” despite a lack of evidence of such threats.
The Biden administration actually moved to treat parents as if they were domestic terrorists.
It appears that Garland’s memo was urged on by the National School Boards Association, which represents many local school boards. The association also receives a huge amount of money from teachers unions.
In addition, Garland’s son-in-law is a co-founder of an organization that advocates “culturally responsive training” and other ideas associated with critical race theory.
So the attorney general’s memo wasn’t only an uncalled-for threat to parents, it also appeared to involve some serious conflicts of interest.
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Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”