Biden was once touted as the ‘New FDR’. That ambition is fast dying – as are Democrats hopes of remaining in power

Congress’s passage on Friday of Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill would ordinarily have been a cause for celebration. But there is a good chance it was the beginning of the end of his presidency. After all, the bill’s final days marked a new consensus around a centrist set of economic remedies, chosen out of fears of what will supposedly happen when progressives with a transformative agenda exercise too much influence on the Democratic party agenda.

Only 10 months ago, Biden came into office with great expectations – but greater terrors. Even more apparent at the start than now, Biden’s presidency has been defined by fear rather than hope. With the assault on the Capitol earlier in the month, the culmination of a four-year deathwatch for American democracy, the emergency could hardly evaporate overnight. With Donald Trump temporarily ousted, his replacement also drew 1930s comparisons. The question “is he or isn’t he?” had been asked of Biden’s predecessor for four years. To redeem the country from the fascist, was Biden going to be Franklin Roosevelt?

Samuel Moyn is a professor of law and history at Yale and the author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

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