AMAC Exclusive By Seamus Brennan
The end of the year is always a time to take stock—and as years go, in terms of politics at least, 2021 was a doozy. But with all its chaos, fighting, and drama now behind us, we can see more clearly the major stories beneath all the headlines—and how they might impact our year ahead. Here are 7 of the biggest political takeaways from 2021.
Donald Trump’s Political Career Is Alive and Well
Though it may have seemed unlikely in the early days of 2021, former President Donald Trump has returned to center stage. Just weeks after his second impeachment and amid relentless media focus on the events of January 6, Trump reemerged to a hero’s welcome at CPAC in February, where he delivered the first political speech of his post-presidency and won the 2024 straw poll. Since then, he has held six major campaign-style rallies and endorsed more than 70 candidates for Congress, governorships, and other state-level positions in an attempt to steer the Republican Party in a more populist direction. Most significantly, he is polling as high as 13 points above Joe Biden in a potential 2024 general election matchup, further solidifying his frontrunner status as the next GOP nominee should he choose to enter the race. But regardless of whether or not Trump seeks to reclaim the presidency in 2024, it remains clear that he is the unquestioned leader of the Republican Party.
Conservatives Can Win on Culture War Issues
No issue has dominated the airwaves in 2021 quite like Critical Race Theory (CRT)—a Marxist ideology that suggests all of human history and social identity ought to be viewed through a strictly racial lens, and that the United States and indeed all of Western civilization is irredeemably racist and evil. But that message of division received a resounding rebuke with Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race, a state that Biden won by 10 points in 2020. For the GOP, the takeaway was clear: embrace the fight for America’s culture.
Youngkin’s win—which came in large part due to parents’ growing concerns over CRT and Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s insistence that parents should have no say in their children’s education—should serve as a clear signal for conservative candidates everywhere. Though some Republicans remain permanently convinced that the GOP should avoid hot-button social disputes and stick only to ‘soft’ issues like tax cuts, 2021 proved not only that Americans care about culture, but also that cultural issues can be the most important to voters, and win campaigns for Republicans.
After Just One Year, Joe Biden’s Legislative Agenda Is Dead in the Water
Instead of following through on his campaign promise of governing as a consensus-building moderate, Joe Biden has instead governed as an ultra-left radical, keen on remaking every facet of American society—and the results have been devastating for him and his party.
The so-called “Build Back Better” plan, which contained trillions of dollars in unnecessary social spending and has been identified by the administration as a cornerstone of the Biden agenda, was recently shot down by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who was Democrats’ last hope for getting the legislation through an evenly divided Senate. The legislation included amnesty for illegal aliens, $500 billion dollars for Green New Deal-type policies, an expansion of Obamacare, and countless other far-left wish list items for which the radical Democrats have long been clamoring.
Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are Just as Radical (And Incompetent) As President Trump Warned
Although Biden’s signature socialist wish list is currently on life support, other Biden-led initiatives like the misleadingly titled “American Rescue Plan” and “bipartisan” infrastructure bill have wreaked havoc on the economy. In addition, the administration has pursued radical policies through unilateral executive action, threatening Americans’ constitutional rights and liberties.
On Biden’s first day in office, he signed executive orders that rescinded Trump’s 1776 Commission, reversed the Mexico City policy (which forbids taxpayer funding for abortion in other countries), mandated that federal government employees embrace radical gender ideology, canceled the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, and undermined the security of America’s southern border.
As if that weren’t enough, the Biden administration then proceeded to wage an all-out war on American energy, do nothing about spiraling inflation and a supply chain crisis, and blunder into a disastrous surrender in Afghanistan that has badly undermined American prestige and security.
Congressional Democrats have added their own slew of radical and disastrous policies, including an attempt to federalize elections, ban Voter ID, and destroy election security, add new blue states to the union in order to cement liberal majorities in Congress, betray Israel, and defund police departments amid an ongoing crime wave.
If Biden’s sinking approval ratings and the double-digit advantage Republicans currently enjoy on the generic ballot indicate anything, it is that the American people are waking up to the radicalism of the Democrat party and are eager for a change in direction.
Trump’s COVID Plan Was the Best Path Forward All Along
In perhaps one of the most unexpected political turns of the year, Joe Biden has finally come around to essentially the same COVID strategy he ardently ran against in 2020. Though Biden repeatedly vowed to “shut down the virus, not the country” and accused President Trump of failing Americans on COVID throughout the campaign, more Americans have now died from Covid under Biden in 2021 than under Trump in 2020.
Furthermore, after causing a severe nationwide testing shortage, Biden has concluded that “there is no federal solution” to the pandemic and that it must be solved at the “state level”—even though the Washington Post reported that he would “fully use the federal government’s powers once inaugurated to speed the production and dispersal of vaccines and protective equipment” just a year prior (something Trump, obviously, also did to great success). A federalist approach to handling the pandemic, however, is precisely what Biden campaigned against in 2020, and is the latest in a long series of revelations this year demonstrating that Trump’s record on COVID was far more impressive than he was given credit for.
Cementing a Conservative Majority on the Supreme Court Was a Transformative Event
Following indications that the Supreme Court may be prepared to revisit the landmark cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which have recognized and upheld the right to abortion for almost half a century, the historic and long-term significance of Trump’s three appointments to the Court is becoming increasingly clear. Trump’s three appointees—Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—could provide the deciding votes in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most significant challenge to abortion rights in decades. The Court will also issue decisions on high-profile cases relating to religious freedom and the Second Amendment next spring. Should the Court deliver a decision that takes another look at Roe and Casey next June, all of the credit will belong to Trump and the Republican Senators who braved fierce opposition to put strong Constitutional originalists on the court.
Democrats Have No Viable Bench of Candidates
Democrats’ 2024 outlook has become increasingly bleak. With Biden’s plummeting approval ratings and Vice President Kamala Harris’s status as the least popular sitting vice president in 50 years, Democrats have strikingly few viable candidates as they look ahead to the next presidential election. If Biden chooses not to seek a second term, all polling indicates that Harris—the presumed frontrunner in a field without Biden—would be unsuccessful against nearly every Republican presidential hopeful.
Prospects for other Democrat aspirants—such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—look equally troubling. If Republicans take advantage of the obvious lack of talent atop the Democratic Party, the 2024 presidential election could very well be theirs to lose.
After a turbulent 12 months, 2022 could prove to be a banner political year for conservatives and the GOP, despite the political and cultural chaos inflicted by Democrats this year. As GOP pollster Robert Blizzard put it, “they’re running for the hills… I think they see the writing on the wall.” Democrats had all the power in the world, but they may have flown too close to the sun. And for that—perhaps as soon as next fall—they will have to pay the price.