When then-president-elect Joe Biden first warned of a “dark winter” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, few could have predicted just how bleak that season would become, or how long it would ultimately last. While his words ostensibly described the unknown resolution to COVID-19 – at the time still a short way from Operation Warp Speed coming to fruition – they have, to many, become a harbinger of the disasters that have befallen the United States in 2021.
To suggest that President Biden is mired in crises would be a grave understatement. Since becoming commander in chief, he has ricocheted from one disaster to another without ever entirely quelling the initial problem. It is fortunate for his administration that the Fourth Estate appears all too willing to overlook the blizzards and avalanches of this extended winter.
Joe Biden warned the public that coming out of the COVID catastrophe would be no mean feat; he described the period of suffering the nation faced as a “very dark winter.” But the thing with seasons – no matter how harsh and torrential the weather seems – is that they end with regularity. America is not George R.R Martin’s fictional Westeros where “Winter is Coming” and can last decades. The voting public was willing to accept the hardships, the lockdowns, the restrictions of freedom, on the understanding that spring would soon follow.
With the rise in Delta and Lambda variants, major cities reinstating mask mandates, and the administration locked in a petty battle with state governors over who has the power to do what, no spring blossoms are breaking through the bureaucratic ice.
As politically expedient as a distraction would be for the administration right now, none of the contenders appear to bring positive news.
On the ever-burgeoning border crisis, after months of maintaining a straight face to the American people that the situation was in hand, leaked recordings of Homeland Security head Alejandro Mayorkas paint a very different portrait. Mayorkas said:
“A couple of days ago, I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose, and this is unsustainable … We can’t continue like this, our people in the field cant continue, and our system isn’t built for it.”
With more than two hundred thousand migrant encounters at the border in July alone (a 13% increase on June’s numbers), this problem is not going away. Vice President Kamala Harris – who has been tagged as the “border czar” – is nowhere to be seen. Fentanyl continues to flood American cities. A large swath of those appearing at the border have already been turned away at least once, and not a single mention of COVID restrictions for those who cross the border illegally. In terms of how “dark” the border crisis could become, it is difficult to see even a shred of light.
A Dark Cloud Over Afghanistan
It seems the president’s words have come back to haunt him on the Afghanistan situation. In July, speaking to the press pool, Biden was confident in his withdrawal strategy and made a number of positive statements. He said firstly, “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a [sic] embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan.” And now it appears – just one month later – that along with the Afghan president, folks are fleeing Kabul and desperate to board any aircraft to take them far away from the inevitable trouble.
The president continued his prognostication, saying, “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.” As of today, the Taliban is now the effective government. Quite what situation the young women of Afghanistan who have built careers will face is unclear, but experts on the region warn that the Taliban Emirates is unlikely to be favorable to the idea of females in public positions of power.
The Money Won’t Stretch
As for the financial situation of the United States just seven months down the line, the latest stats suggest that inflation is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that the printing presses will be fired up yet again to cover the enormous spending commitments being made on an almost weekly basis. Added to this are the rising gas prices – heralded in by Biden’s shutting down of the Keystone XL Pipeline contract, cutting off leases for gas on federal land, and a number of “green energy” policies. This has resulted in the U.S. no longer being energy independent. And it all costs the consumer.
The price of food and housing is on the rise. Those who do have a property to rent out can no longer evict delinquent renters. And all the evidence suggests that generous benefits – paid for by the taxpayer – are discouraging people from taking jobs.
Against the Dark
Perhaps, then, Joe Biden was not warning of a mere few months of pain but of an ongoing, never-ending season of darkness. If he was, it will go down in history as one of the few statements he has made that turns out to be true. These are, indeed, dark times for the American people, just as Joe Biden promised. There remains hope in the American spirit, however, for as Albert Camus opined, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”