Biden is not the first and certainly is not the last political figure in the White House claiming to be the liberator and savior of our Republic.
In the Abrahamic religions, the figure of the messiah is of importance. The the messiah is the one who brings salvation and liberation to a group of people. Listening to President Joe Biden’s speech marking 100 days in office, one wonders if this was speech delineating achievements and his administration legislative and policy agenda or a messianic speech proclaiming salvation and liberation for America, from the “evils” that have plagued our country for decades and from the Trump administration.
Biden went to a joint session of Congress to deliver a speech marking the first 100 days of his administration. In the speech, Biden proclaimed to the nation, “Tonight, I come to talk about crisis and opportunity. About rebuilding a nation, revitalizing our democracy and winning the future for America.” With these opening words, Biden began an encomium of the achievements of his administration in the past 100 days and his legislative agenda.
Biden pointed to the success of the policies adopted by his administration in response to the COVID pandemic. Policies which, he claims, have led to high numbers of vaccinations, the $1,400 checks to households, lower levels of COVID infections across the states, and the rebounding economy. Biden trumpeted these successes, despite most of them, in particular the vaccination levels, being achieved by the actions of the Trump administration.
The domestic legislative agenda for his administration also featured heavily in Biden’s speech. The agenda amounted to announcements of a large spending spree on progressive priorities and announcements for immigration “reform.” Highlighting policies such as his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, while also announcing a $1.8 trillion spending plan. The latter plan dubbed the “America’s Family plan” seeks to spend money for child-care, paid family and medical leave, free universal pre-school, free community college etc., while also calling for Congress to pass immigration reform.
In the process of ending his speech, Biden said, “With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century.” Words that show that Biden is a politician dominated by liberal salvationism, thus becoming a progressive messianic figure.
Political thinker Kenneth Minogue, in his book The Liberal Mind, defines liberal salvationism as the belief that the human condition can be perfected. This means it is possible to eliminate all suffering in the world. This salvationism is undoubtedly attractive, because no one would oppose a politician claiming to solve society’s ills. Indeed, the success of this salvationism is shown by the positive approval numbers that Biden still has.
However, Minogue notes salvationist politicians turn every problem into what he calls a “suffering situation,” meaning that every problem is turned into a situation involving a victim and oppressor, which necessitates a government response to end such suffering. Biden, being a salvationist, proposed the usual government response to such suffering: spending taxpayer’s money and regulation.
Hence, Biden is pursuing a spending spree regardless of the costs to taxpayers, the public debt, and inflation fears, in his messianic drive to solve the problems of America, while also calling for more regulation for the achievement of progressive priorities such as climate change. The problem is that next year the president’s administration will come calling back for more of the same policies.
The latter point reveals the danger with salvationist politicians: they do not when to stop. They will continue to find problems to solve by state action until suffering is eliminated in America. This will be an infinite process in which the federal government will continue to spend, regulate, and manage more and more aspects of American life, putting in jeopardy the freedoms that made America the envy of the world.
As history tells us, the policies announced in this speech will not solve America’s problems. Simply look at past speeches and policies adopted by former presidents throughout the 20th and early 21st century when dealing with basically the same problems. Only policies that put the freedom of Americans at the forefront will ease the problems facing the nation.
Suffering is a fact of life that cannot be eliminated, only eased. This is a hard truth that salvationist politicians like Joe Biden cannot understand. Biden is not the first and certainly is not the last political figure in the White House claiming to be the liberator and savior of our Republic. For the sake of the nation, we need to be aware of these fake messiahs.
Ojel L. Rodriguez AKC (@ojelrodriguez) is a Ph.D. student at the School of International Relations in The University of Saint Andrews.
Image: Gage Skidmore