Joe Biden was elected as a moderate-left Democrat, but he is not governing as one. He pledged repeatedly to work across party lines, but he is ramming through the biggest, most expensive progressive agenda in American history without any Republican votes. He is almost certain to try it again with his next two spending proposals, the largest since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. As the White House pushes these mammoth bills with only Democratic votes, Americans are realizing they got a very different president from the one they bargained for, the one they were promised during the campaign. What’s unclear is whether they will recoil from this new reality.

Throughout the summer and fall, Biden ran as a unifier who could work across party lines. He wanted to do so, he said, and he reiterated that comforting message as late as his inaugural address. It was probably his most important policy message, and Americans believed it. They remembered his years in the Senate and his primary victory over socialist Bernie Sanders.

The reality has been very different from the promises. Biden’s pledge of bipartisanship and unity turned out to be a cynical sleight-of-hand, raw partisanship masquerading as comity. In the general election, it worked well enough to defeat a divisive incumbent, whose impulsiveness, rancor, and personal attacks repulsed many Americans. Now that the election is over, so is the message. Despite razor-thin Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, Biden is determined to pass an ambitious agenda with no support from Republicans.

The clearest indication of Biden’s bait and switch came with the stimulus bill. Before signaling his final position, the president reached out to Republicans, who proposed a $600 billion package, focused on immediate needs plus some fiscal stimulus.

The bipartisan meeting was all for show. Biden quickly rejected the Republicans’ proposal, made no effort to meet with them again or negotiate any compromise, and chose instead to push for a bill three times as large, much of it to be spent long after the COVID crisis has passed. The extra $1.3 trillion did not include the infrastructure and other programs he now considers essential. Those are coming in additional bills with huge price tags and associated tax hikes.