Democrats and the media have showered U.S. Senator John Fetterman (D-Penn.) with praise after he checked himself into the hospital to receive treatment for depression. Under ordinary circumstances, this development would be seen as concerning if not disqualifying for a sitting senator. But according to Joe Biden, Fetterman is “leading by example” with his vulnerability. This cynical cheerleading plumbs the depths of a deeply corrosive form of populism. If Biden were less subtle, he would add, “he’s just like you, folks.”
To Biden’s credit, America does look a lot like John Fetterman these days. The country is depressed, complacent, increasingly illiterate, hooked on junk food, TV, and pot, getting fatter every year, drifting from the church pew, and caught up in a love affair with therapy. On the campaign trail, Fetterman dressed like a slob, wearing a hoodie and basketball shorts everywhere he went.
Those who expected Fetterman’s disastrous debate performance to end his career underestimated the suggestibility of the new America. There are sensible people left who find Fetterman’s apotheosis confounding, but they are becoming the minority. The median voter is more inclined to identify with Fetterman’s struggle. Democrats, being master manipulators, are perfectly aware of this dynamic, which they exploited to great effect in the midterms.
Demagogues like Biden are now shrewdly enlisting the sympathy of the public to support Fetterman as he struggles through a job he is obviously unfit to do. This the Left calls “progress.”
In a healthy civilization, leaders model virtues like strength, wisdom, prudence, and patriotism, but in a degenerating democracy like ours, the classical virtues are considered evil because they are the possessions of the few. Weakness, which is all too ordinary, is held up as good. There is a shortage of qualified people in government, while demagogues rule the day. These degenerate characters flatter the masses, inflame their envy, and encourage their vices.
We have climbed quite far down the ladder of civilization. The Senate was once home to great thinkers and statesmen like Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. These men engaged in vigorous debates on questions both practical and philosophical. What does “public affairs” consist of today? The country is trillions in debt and there is not even a whisper of a discussion about rectifying the problem. Instead, the masses are agitated by an endless series of hysterical moral and emotional appeals concerning fake issues like the “climate,” the “right” to an abortion, the loss of Our Democracy™, and the ever-dreaded “white supremacy.”
Fetterman, in his only debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, encapsulated the low level of the times when he blurted out in a toneless voice, “You want to cut Social Security!” Why has a New Deal entitlement program become more important to American identity than the Bill of Rights? To borrow a turn of phrase from Joe Biden, what does it say about “the soul of the nation”?
The ones who get the last laugh are corrupt, exploitative tyrants like Biden, whose own selfish motives too often have been underestimated. A lowbrow narrative about Biden’s age not only has not damaged his public standing, it has in fact done him a favor by making him look like a harmless and passive object of other forces, rather than a willful agent of the nation’s destruction.
Fetterman, a malicious radical with a history of coddling criminals, has benefited from a similar dynamic. His extreme record has all been washed away in an outpouring of sympathy for what should be disqualifying conditions. It’s all very perverse.
It’s not hard to understand why Fetterman is depressed. It must be difficult going through the motions of high office without being able to communicate like a normal person. But Fetterman isn’t some random guy off the street, appearances notwithstanding. Nobody forced him to be a U.S. senator. He (and the people surrounding him) wanted power and he got it. At the current rate, he won’t be doing a whole lot of governing, but it won’t matter. He has been discharged of responsibility by the pity of a nation consumed in vice and self-loathing and eager to shift the burdens of self-rule.
Joe Biden ought to feel pretty happy about all of this as he looks ahead to 2024. A nation that gives up on self-government will endure any humiliation—and probably deserve it, too.