If you get your news from conservative media and Republican politicians, President Joe Biden is out to destroy the fabric of America, the very essentials of what makes the country red, white and blue.
Say goodbye to juicy hamburgers, Dr. Seuss, stay-at-home parenting and Chik-fil-A sauce.
It’s been tricky for Republicans to make Biden – a 78-year-old moderate white man who likes to say “folks” – seem like a radical. Both during the election campaign and now, conservatives have instead tried to portray him as under the sway of more progressive members of his party (who often just so happen to be younger women of colour).
Scaring voters into believing that essential parts of their lives are at risk is a tactic conservatives often return to. They tried to convince people that same-sex marriage would destroy the entire institution of marriage for everyone and they fear-mongered that Obamacare would create “death panels” and end health care.
The cultural critiques are continuing with Biden’s presidency. Some of them are silly, while others – such as going after rights for transgender children – have real and serious consequences.
On March 2, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that it would stop publishing six books from the beloved author’s catalog because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
In If I Ran the Zoo, for example, there’s a drawing of three men who appear to be Asian, described by Seuss as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”
Plenty of other Seuss books are still available, and Biden had nothing to do with the decision. Yet conservatives tried to tie him to the issue, noting that when he issued a presidential proclamation for Read Across America Day on March 1, he did not mention Seuss’ name – a break with his two predecessors.
“Biden erases Dr. Seuss from Read Across America proclamation as progressives seek to cancel beloved author” read a Fox News headline.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Department of Education drafted the proclamation and that as “we celebrate the love of reading and uplift diverse and representative authors, it is especially important that we ensure all children can see themselves represented and celebrated in the books that they read.”
Perhaps no president in history has been as openly supportive of transgender rights as Biden. But there’s only so much he can do on the federal level to ensure equality without the cooperation of Congress.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order on LGBTQ equality, essentially reaffirming a Supreme Court decision. “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” read one line in the order.
Conservatives quickly took aim at Biden, using the #BidenEraseWomen hashtag on Twitter. Even though there was no other mention of sports in the order, conservatives said it “unilaterally eviscerates women’s sports.”
Instead, GOP-controlled state legislatures have been aggressively passing anti-transgender legislation. State lawmakers have introduced more than 100 such bills, with 33 states considering barring transgender women and girls from competing on women’s sports teams. At least seven states now have these exclusionary laws.
Supporters of this type of legislation argue that transgender women have an unfair biological advantage and will make it impossible for other women to compete – even though these claims aren’t rooted in any scientific evidence.
“Chik-fil-A has a sauce shortage. And you want to know why? Because of Joe Biden’s radical liberal policies,” read a campaign email from Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.
This month, Chik-fil-A announced that some of its restaurants were “experiencing a shortage of select items, like sauces” due to “industry-wide supply chain disruption.”
The pandemic – not to mention other one-off incidents like the Suez Canal blockage and the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline – have created shortages and disruptions to the global economy. Biden is not to blame for the lack of sauce on chicken.
Biden’s proposed American Families Plan would provide $1.8 trillion to families through investment in education, child care and worker-friendly policies. It includes financing for universal pre-kindergarten and gives subsidies for child care. Families earning up to 1.5 times their state median income would spend no more than 7% of their income on child care, while the lowest-income families would have it covered fully.
Republicans quickly attacked this plan as Biden coming down “against stay-at-home parenting.” A conservative writer said it amounted to “the government bribing parents to turn over their kids to the care of others.” Another said, “the question of ‘how young is too young’ when it comes to sending children to institutions of learning is decided, essentially, by the government.”
Families would still have the option of staying home with their children, just like they do now. But if they want to work, they would get financial assistance.
Biden also wants to make permanent the expanded child tax credit payments, which provide families with monthly checks of up to $300 per child. The tax credits were part of the American Rescue Plan, which every Republican lawmaker voted against.
In recent weeks, conservatives have come out against seemingly innocuous bipartisan legislation provide $1 billion a year in grants for more civics education, arguing that it would be used as a “Trojan horse” for the Biden administration to indoctrinate students with a liberal agenda.
Much of the controversy stems around a completely unrelated rule proposed by the Education Department with guidelines for a grant program for teaching US history, saying programs should “reflect the diversity, identities, histories, contributions, and experiences of all students.” It also included a positive mention of The New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which aimed to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very centre of our national narrative.”
On April 29, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus sent a letter to the Education Department protesting the rule.
McConnell and other GOP senators complained that the Biden administration’s proposed rule doubled down on “divisive, radical, and historically-dubious buzzwords and propaganda” and said it would promote “racial ideologies meant to divide us.”
Since its publication in 2019, the award-winning 1619 Project has been a lightning rod for conservatives who object to teaching the uglier parts of American history.
In a congressional hearing, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona noted that school curricula are not set at the federal level and that the federal civics bill specifically bars a federal curriculum.
Conservative media outlets and GOP politicians have repeatedly tried to claim that the Biden administration is trying to outlaw beef. A Fox News graphic said “Up in your grill – Biden’s climate requirements,” claiming that Americans would be limited to one burger each month.
“Joe Biden’s climate plan includes cutting 90% of red meat from our diets by 2030. They want to limit us to about four pounds a year. Why doesn’t Joe stay out of my kitchen?” tweeted Boebert on April 24. A similar claim was picked up by conservatives including Donald Trump Jr., Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Representative Madison Cawthorn.
“Not only does Emperor Biden not want us to celebrate the 4th of July, now he doesn’t want us to have a burger on that day either,” Cawthorn tweeted.
The Biden administration has not proposed limiting Americans’ meat consumption. That is not on the policy agenda at all. As CNN reported, the conspiracy theory goes back to a deceptive Daily Mail article with the headline “Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH.”
Again, Biden’s climate plan proposes no such restrictions.
Mr. Potato Head
On February 25, Hasbro announced that it was rebranding Mr. Potato Head as the more simple Potato Head “to better reflect the full line.” Notably, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head would still be available and called Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. The company would also be launching “Create Your Potato Head Family” in recognition that families all look different.
“Look out, Mr. Potato Head, you’re next,” Representative Matt Gaetz said in a speech in February. “I’m sorry, I think now he’s going by Potato X. He can’t be Mr. Potato.”
This shouldn’t really need to be said, but Biden has nothing to do with the Potato Head franchise.
Chicken wings, dipping sauce shortages – “that too is new under Biden,” Newsmax TV reported recently.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt also tweeted a story about the chicken wing shortage with the comment, “Joe Biden’s America.”
Vox attributes the current shortage of chicken wings in the country to “a combination of rising prices to meet demand and damaged flocks from the record cold temperatures that swept across America’s heartland.”
The National Chicken Council also points to bad winter weather and power outages in key states like Texas.
Notably, experts do not blame Biden. He has nothing to do with this at all.