JOHN DERBYSHIRE: SOTU Shows Biden Living In Past—The Party (Parties) Are Over
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

I was actually quite looking forward to the State of the Union. I never thought I’d hear myself saying that. The majority of State of the Union addresses from President to Congress have been written reports, not live speeches. Thomas Jefferson was right: a written report is the proper, modest way to do it in a constitutional republic. This year’s SOTU, however, promised some entertainment value—although entertainment of the cruder sort, like watching the village idiot trying to count his change.

How coherent will the President be? Will he get up and down from the podium without mishap? How big and brazen will be the lies that he tells: Inflation’s under control? Congress won’t give him the powers he needs to close the border? Urban crime levels are down?

But I only watched the first forty minutes of the filthy thing. That was as much as I could take. Past the half-hour mark, in fact, I was only watching because I didn’t want to miss the moment when the President fell down, or started frothing at the mouth and speaking in tongues, or mistook Kamala Harris for his wife.

At the forty-minute mark, even the hope of something like that—something I could at least laugh at—wasn’t sufficient to keep me in my seat. I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

Reading news reports of the speech this morning, I’m glad to see there wasn’t any dramatic fiasco—no falling-down or frothing, no hair-sniffing or shaking hands with invisible friends.

I did miss this incident, which happened after the formal speech—Marjorie Taylor Greene making Biden say Laken Riley’s name:

I’m glad on my own account—glad that I didn’t miss the fun because there wasn’t any fun—but I’m also glad on my country’s account. This repulsive low-grade political festival is already enough of an insult to the sensibilities of free citizens in a constitutional republic. Adding a laugh track would just make it worse.

Was there anything at all in the content of the President’s speech that I thought worthy of comment? Only that it was delivered in a strikingly old-fashioned key.

Biden’s party, the Democratic Party, was, he kept assuring us, the Party of the Little Guy. Rich people are smug in their mansions, all the richer for the generous tax breaks that the person Biden only referred to as ”my predecessor” had gifted to them. Business corporations and the wealthy should pay their fair share!

Meanwhile John and Suzy Citizen are struggling to make ends meet under the burdens of student loan debt.

What a load of rubbish! College is way more expensive than it needs to be because the colleges have loaded themselves up with administrators. Quote from Forbes magazine:

There are now 3 times as many administrators and other professionals (not including university hospitals staff), as there are faculty (on a per student basis) at the leading schools in [the] country.

Administrative Bloat At U.S. Colleges Is Skyrocketing, by Paul Weinstein, Jr., August 28, 2023

And how do they vote, the people staffing those bloated college-administrator payrolls? [University of Michigan defends spending millions on diversity plan,  by Martin Slagter,, January 24, 2019] The Administrative Assistants for Institutional Equity, the Assistant Vice Provosts for Equity, Inclusion, and Academic Affairs, the Directors of the Offices for Multicultural Learning?

You know damn well how they vote, every blessed one of them.

The President may have had a point about over-priced pharmaceuticals. I can speak with authority here. Every day I take a pill with a market price of over four hundred dollars—about one dollar per milligram.

It doesn’t cost me anything, though; my wife’s employee healthcare plan covers it. Sure, the healthcare deductions from Mrs. Derbyshire’s paycheck leave us with less disposable income that we’d otherwise have, but that’s how welfare states work. And sure: if she loses her job we lose the coverage; but I have Medicare to fall back on.

We live in a welfare state. That welfare state was built largely by people who thought the way Joe Biden still thinks: rich man in his castle, poor man at his gate, the rich man voting Republican, the poor man voting Democrat.

That was the mid-twentieth-century alignment, more or less. It worked pretty well, as things will when a majority of citizens feel themselves to be bonded in a common national enterprise to advance the common good under a fair system of law and justice. The poor man got his welfare state; the rich man kept most of his wealth; nobody starved, nobody got guillotined.

America today has a different political shape. The rich man in his castle has morphed into a gentry progressive with a head full of luxury beliefs—beliefs of a kind that his grandfather would have thought bizarrely radical. Better-off and better-educated citizens divide humanity into oppressors and oppressed, categories defined by race, nationality, and sex.

White heterosexuals—especially males—in prosperous countries are oppressors; nonwhites, people in poor countries, and female or sexually confused persons are oppressed.

Since a great many of those who hold these beliefs are white heterosexual U.S. citizens, there is a mighty load of guilt to be assuaged [Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott [Formerly Mrs. Jeff Bezos] reveals the groups that got some of her $2.1 billion in gifts in 2023, by Thalia Beaty, AP, December 8, 2023].

All of this—the luxury beliefs, the guilt—are embraced by today’s Democratic Party.

It is therefore not surprising that white heterosexual Americans who are not rich and have not much education are voting Republican.

They are, however, not particularly welcome in the Republican Party. Senior figures of that party are still, just like Joe Biden, mentally trapped in the mid-20th century, looking kindly on Wall Street and the international alliances formed seventy or eighty years ago when they made some sense.

Our big political parties really need to be pulled down and rebuilt, like old buildings that have become unsafe. Term limits for congressmen and senators would probably help. Joe Biden makes the case for term limits all by himself.

Having pledged my troth to candidates who promise to mail in their State of the Union reports, I hereby pledge it all over again to those supporting congressional term limits.

Where are there such candidates, though? Where are they? Hello? … Is anybody there? …

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at


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