The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Impact on the US Midterm Elections

Will foreign crises shift the focus of American voters away from accelerating inflation? Commentary The U.S. midterm elections will be held on Nov. 8. Seven-plus months to the election is a lifetime in politics, but it is not too early to speculate about the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian war on the election outcome. The conventional wisdom is that the Republican Party is headed for a blowout victory due to massive failures of the Biden administration’s domestic policies: Some lawmakers in the Biden administration have made questionable suggestions (for example, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested that people concerned about high gas prices need to buy electric vehicles) and remain intransigent (for example, refusing to return to the pro-domestic production policies of the Trump administration) in facing these issues head-on. The adverse effects are felt by all Americans, but especially by those households below median annual family income (about $67,500 in 2020) who are struggling to make ends meet. Inflation is a tax that eats up disposable income to the point that many people are now making difficult trades on how to allocate their monthly incomes—on gasoline, food, heating oil, and other necessary purchases. Inflation cuts across all demographic groups, political parties, and ideologies. The effects of rising costs of basic necessities have led directly to low poll numbers for the Biden administration and the Democrat Party in general. The Real Clear Politics polling on Biden job approval on the economy tells the tale: he is an unprecedented 20 points underwater, with 38 percent approval and an astounding 57.8 percent disapproval! A worker takes pictures of gasoline prices at a gas station, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Jersey City, New Jersey, on March 9, 2022. (Mike Segar/Reuters) The RCP numbers on whether the country is on the right or wrong track are even more disastrous for the Democrat Party, which controls the White House, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. A paltry 27.2 percent of Americans say the country is on the right track, while an incredible 65.1 percent believe America is on the wrong track. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 30 House Democrats—a 30-year high!—have decided not to seek reelection this year. No wonder the Democrats are frantic in trying to shift the blame for their mismanagement to any poll-tested excuse that works for them. The retiring House Democrats have blamed the “gridlock on Capitol Hill” and the “toxicity of relations between the parties” as key reasons for leaving Congress, but those excuses are well-worn phrases that ignore the elephant in the room—the disastrous inflation that affects every American. And that has translated to a 4-point advantage for the Republican Party in the “2022 generic congressional vote.” The trend lines are even worse for Democrats, as that 4-point gap is widening as the days and weeks go by as inflation accelerates with no end in sight. Americans aren’t buying the excuses of President Joe Biden and the Democrats; they expect concrete actions to fix inflation/economic problems, not posturing on social issues like critical race theory training, mask and vaccine mandates, pro-LGBTQ policies, etc. As U.S. inflation began to spike in 2021, the prevailing excuse for rising inflation used by the Biden administration is the COVID pandemic. Last November, in a CBS Face the Nation interview, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explicitly blamed the pandemic for rising inflation: “It’s important to realize that the cause of this inflation is the pandemic. … It led to a dramatic increase in demand … for products.” Really? The pandemic magically made people “consume more”? Demand for gasoline is going to increase during an economic shutdown? Nonsense. And Americans haven’t bought that excuse because the annual inflation rate in the United States was just 1.4 percent in 2020—during the pandemic! Compare that to the annual rate of “7.9 percent for the 12 months ended February 2022.” An important axiom of politics: to distract from domestic political difficulties, and shift the focus and narrative to foreign policy (and war, whenever possible). The Russo-Ukrainian war is “made to order” for the Biden administration to pivot from the “pandemic excuse” to the “Putin excuse” for rising gasoline prices and U.S. inflation. Sure enough, as reported by The Washington Times, “President Biden on Monday [March 14] blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin in large part for soaring U.S. inflation and rising gasoline prices.” President Joe Biden speaks in Washington on March 14, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) White House press secretary Jen Psaki routinely repeats that narrative (“Putin’s price hike”) during daily press briefings in hopes that Americans will swallow that excuse and stop the bleeding in the national polls. Except that many Americans have figured out the “made to order” is n

The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Impact on the US Midterm Elections

Will foreign crises shift the focus of American voters away from accelerating inflation?

Commentary

The U.S. midterm elections will be held on Nov. 8. Seven-plus months to the election is a lifetime in politics, but it is not too early to speculate about the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian war on the election outcome.

The conventional wisdom is that the Republican Party is headed for a blowout victory due to massive failures of the Biden administration’s domestic policies:

Some lawmakers in the Biden administration have made questionable suggestions (for example, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested that people concerned about high gas prices need to buy electric vehicles) and remain intransigent (for example, refusing to return to the pro-domestic production policies of the Trump administration) in facing these issues head-on.

The adverse effects are felt by all Americans, but especially by those households below median annual family income (about $67,500 in 2020) who are struggling to make ends meet.

Inflation is a tax that eats up disposable income to the point that many people are now making difficult trades on how to allocate their monthly incomes—on gasoline, food, heating oil, and other necessary purchases. Inflation cuts across all demographic groups, political parties, and ideologies.

The effects of rising costs of basic necessities have led directly to low poll numbers for the Biden administration and the Democrat Party in general. The Real Clear Politics polling on Biden job approval on the economy tells the tale: he is an unprecedented 20 points underwater, with 38 percent approval and an astounding 57.8 percent disapproval!

Epoch Times Photo
A worker takes pictures of gasoline prices at a gas station, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Jersey City, New Jersey, on March 9, 2022. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The RCP numbers on whether the country is on the right or wrong track are even more disastrous for the Democrat Party, which controls the White House, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. A paltry 27.2 percent of Americans say the country is on the right track, while an incredible 65.1 percent believe America is on the wrong track. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 30 House Democrats—a 30-year high!—have decided not to seek reelection this year.

No wonder the Democrats are frantic in trying to shift the blame for their mismanagement to any poll-tested excuse that works for them. The retiring House Democrats have blamed the “gridlock on Capitol Hill” and the “toxicity of relations between the parties” as key reasons for leaving Congress, but those excuses are well-worn phrases that ignore the elephant in the room—the disastrous inflation that affects every American. And that has translated to a 4-point advantage for the Republican Party in the “2022 generic congressional vote.”

The trend lines are even worse for Democrats, as that 4-point gap is widening as the days and weeks go by as inflation accelerates with no end in sight. Americans aren’t buying the excuses of President Joe Biden and the Democrats; they expect concrete actions to fix inflation/economic problems, not posturing on social issues like critical race theory training, mask and vaccine mandates, pro-LGBTQ policies, etc.

As U.S. inflation began to spike in 2021, the prevailing excuse for rising inflation used by the Biden administration is the COVID pandemic. Last November, in a CBS Face the Nation interview, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explicitly blamed the pandemic for rising inflation: “It’s important to realize that the cause of this inflation is the pandemic. … It led to a dramatic increase in demand … for products.”

Really?

The pandemic magically made people “consume more”? Demand for gasoline is going to increase during an economic shutdown? Nonsense.

And Americans haven’t bought that excuse because the annual inflation rate in the United States was just 1.4 percent in 2020—during the pandemic! Compare that to the annual rate of “7.9 percent for the 12 months ended February 2022.”

An important axiom of politics: to distract from domestic political difficulties, and shift the focus and narrative to foreign policy (and war, whenever possible). The Russo-Ukrainian war is “made to order” for the Biden administration to pivot from the “pandemic excuse” to the “Putin excuse” for rising gasoline prices and U.S. inflation.

Sure enough, as reported by The Washington Times, “President Biden on Monday [March 14] blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin in large part for soaring U.S. inflation and rising gasoline prices.”

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks in Washington on March 14, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki routinely repeats that narrative (“Putin’s price hike”) during daily press briefings in hopes that Americans will swallow that excuse and stop the bleeding in the national polls.

Except that many Americans have figured out the “made to order” is not just a cliché, but perhaps the literal definition for the Ukraine crisis.

Here is a chronology of how the Biden administration’s national security and foreign policy may have enabled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

  • America helped fund the Russian invasion as a result of the Democrats’ flawed green policy priorities. Green-related executive orders turned the United States into a net importer of oil and gas in one short year, with a tripling of imports from Russia in 2021, as reported by Global Energy on Feb. 22.
  • National security weakness has been a hallmark of the Biden administration. Putin was emboldened in observing the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the abandonment of billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment at Bagram Air Base. The Russian planning process for invading Ukraine probably began on Sept. 1, 2021, after watching that debacle.
  • The Biden administration’s foreign policy with respect to Ukraine has been reactive, not proactive. The time to deter Russia was BEFORE the invasion; this was pointedly not done. During the months-long Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the Ukrainian government was promised support, but very little military equipment was provided, except for what was already in the pipeline, thanks to Trump administration funding.
  • The United States evacuated the American embassy in Kyiv just before the invasion—another sign of weakness. Since the invasion, the Biden administration has prevaricated on providing Polish MiG-29s and Predator drones to Ukraine. Most Americans support providing military equipment to Ukraine, but the foot-dragging continues.
  • With the Biden administration’s propensity to claim credit for “diplomatic talks,” the silence about any direct communications between Biden and Putin before the invasion speaks volumes. The indications and warnings of an impending Russian invasion led directly to evacuating the U.S. Embassy, but apparently Biden did not take that opportunity to convey the certainty of harsh consequences to Putin before the attack was launched.
Epoch Times Photo
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a residential apartment building after it was hit by a Russian attack in the early hours of the morning in the Sviatoshynskyi District in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 15, 2022. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

It is almost as if the Biden administration welcomed the Russian invasion of Ukraine through a combination of direct actions and also inaction! Weakness and fecklessness are not deterrents, particularly to a calculating and aggressive leader like Putin, whose decision-making calculus is primarily influenced by demonstrated strength, military resolve, and proactive deterrence. Massive rearmament and resupply of the Ukrainian army is the only avenue for defeating (or at least stalemating) the Russians.

The Democrats (and others) are unified in urging support for Ukraine, while demonizing Putin and the Russians through sanctions designed to cause pain to individual Russians. The Russians, and particularly Putin, have been useful political bugbears for Democrats since the 2016 election and the subsequent false claims about “Trump-Russia collusion.”

The Democrat base has a well-developed anti-Russian bias as a result. Thus, a cynical observer might think that the Democrats have examined American political history and have decided that, with their base already on board with the notion, their best electoral chances in November are tied to Biden being a “war president.” What better way to distract from the domestic inflationary debacle being inflicted daily on Americans through Democrat economic policies?

One should anticipate a lot of twists and turns before Election Day in November. The Democrats are particularly good at manufacturing crises and then claiming that only they can solve them. Meanwhile, communist China is sitting on the sidelines while trying to take economic advantage of the war, as previously described here and here. Beijing and Moscow signed a number of economic deals just prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as part of their “joint statement” of an alliance on Feb. 4.

Did the Chinese know of Russia’s intentions beforehand? The timing of that joint statement and those trade deals is highly suspicious.

Will the lessons learned of the Russo-Ukrainian war lead to a decision by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to launch a cross-strait invasion of Taiwan, while Europe and the United States are otherwise engaged in Eastern Europe?

Will the United States repeat the mistakes in Ukraine by failing to provide Taiwan with significant military capabilities to deter a People’s Liberation Army invasion?

Will the United States be prepared for a rapid and decisive response in conjunction with allies in the region in that event?

Conclusion

The Biden administration’s narrative to explain rising U.S. inflation and gasoline prices has shifted from blaming the pandemic to blaming Putin. Will American voters be able to cut through that fog when voting during the midterm elections?

One thing is for sure: another massive failure by the Biden administration on the world stage before November will cement the electoral wipeout of congressional Democrats. Three strikes, and they’re out: Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.