Biden’s lurch left hurting America

Upon his election, President Joe Biden stood before the cameras and promised the American people a time of healing and unity, a renewed order where everyone’s voice deserved to be heard, not trampled and insulted.

“What is our mandate?” he said. “I believe it’s this: Americans have called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.”

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Fast-forward nearly a year later, and the president who has emerged is not doing what the president-elect and the candidate told the people he would.

Instead, the Biden presidency to date has been defined by deeply progressive and disunifying decisions that have not offered the country the change in direction that it plainly sought when President Donald Trump was sent packing.

“Biden Throws In With Left, Leaving His Agenda in Doubt,” declared a New York Times headline from last week. “Progressives flexed, but remain empty-handed. Moderates feel betrayed,” the deck headline went on.

If moderate Democrats feel betrayed, you know how people on the right feel. Left out in the cold.

Biden was right in November. His presidency arrived with a narrow mandate.

He has the slimmest of majorities in Congress.

The nation is as divided as it has been in generations, in no small part because the prior president focused so intently on our divisions.

Biden’s presidency so far has been marked by major decisions that are neither collaborative nor unifying. It should have been easy to foresee what abandoning Afghanistan would mean.

His insistence on leaving to meet the Sept. 11 memorial only helped ensure the disaster that followed. A more prudent decision would have seen him assess the impact of leaving Afghanistan victim to the Taliban’s brutality and to have shifted away from the Trump administration’s foolhardy isolationism.

On domestic policy, the president had a path to unite the nation behind a popular and necessary $1 billion infrastructure bill that would help address years of neglect in our nation’s roads, bridges, airports and more.

But instead of trying to build consensus around a wise investment in the nation’s future, Biden has instead thrown in with progressives who are insisting on a vast expansion of taxation and government spending — in ways the public and even members of Congress don’t yet wholly understand.

Moderate Democrats couldn’t be more angry and have accused a small progressive bloc of House members of seizing Biden’s agenda for themselves.

Whether that is true is hard to say.

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We can’t be sure where Biden will firmly plant his presidency at this point. Will he be the president-elect who promised to lead America toward greater unity?

Or is he a president with dreams of history dancing in his head, ready to take the country toward a progressive vision he couched in centrist speeches, the consequences of alienation and anger be damned?