Editor’s note: Gary Franks is writing this week’s column for the vacationing Robert Reich.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN has taken the Democrat Party to new lows. The Democrats have lost 14 points in 12 months in a recent Gallop poll on who the American people want to run the country. Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’ polling numbers are at historic lows for this time in their term.

How did we get here?

In 2020, the Democrats were riding a wave. Their disdain for former President Donald Trump was their trump card. Nearly the entire media and social media platforms allied with them. It was going to be easy.

They just had to put someone on the stage that people were “comfortable” with and everybody knew the former vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Despite all the hoopla, the Democrats needed an extraordinarily strong Black turnout — enter Biden’s announcement to pick a Black woman for the vice president early. With many choices, Rep. Karen Bass (California) would have been a better one. She had extensive legislative experience, including being Speaker of the House of the nation’s largest state Legislature and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. She also was elected to Congress in 2010, but no. Biden went with a person who, upon arriving in Congress, seemed to have a singular mission of getting to the White House. Yet Harris could not gain a single delegate for president and bowed out before the race even

The normal scrutiny or the scrutiny that would usually accompany Republican Party selections for vice president — some of us remember the criticism of Dan Quayle, former President George H.W. Bush’s choice in 1988 — was dismissed. Quayle was constantly hounded by the mainstream media as being a lightweight, yet he had 12 years of legislative experience as a congressman and senator.

With the selection of Harris and Biden, the Democrats and mainstream media were giddy. All was good, yet, we got a near 80-year-old in the White House, top House Democrat leadership in their 80s and an 80-year-old (Majority Whip James Clyburn) anointing Biden in the primaries and an unseasoned vice presidential candidate. For me, these were ominous signs for concern.

But they had ousted Trump, so all was going to be good. After all, Covid-19 was killing people.

Well, at this point, Biden has had far more Covid-related deaths than his predecessor and that is with three vaccines. Now, he is fumbling the delivery of test kits and just recently advocated for more protective masks.

The media allows Biden to remain unaccountable for his campaign comments of “There are 220,000 Americans dead. Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.” Today, deaths are more than 800,000.

In that vein, is there anyone in America other than the aforementioned leaders and their supporters who would not agree that Obama and Trump would have been impeached and possibly removed from office had they bungled Afghanistan like Biden managed to do?

Unfortunately, we may not have seen the full ramifications of that debacle. No one has been held accountable for it. So the buck stops with Biden. Here’s what went wrong:

— 13 dead Americans;

— The appearance of being chased out of Afghanistan, weakening American leadership (reputation erosion);

— An errant drone attack that killed American supporters; and

— More than $50 billion worth of American military equipment left behind, which could now be used against us.

Add two big statements that did not match the facts:

• We would not leave any Americans behind; yet we did.

• All the generals did not express a different view from the president on the departure strategy; yet they did. Their ideas were not heeded.

Trump and Obama would have been impeached. However, Biden got a mulligan.

The question is trust. Can we trust Biden’s judgment, competence and willingness to make his statements match the facts? Biden must give us reasons to do so.

He should take on the tough challenges Americans face: inflation, national debt, the border crisis, crime in our cities, the rising cost of energy, supply chain difficulties, Russia, North Korea, China, and solvency of Social Security and Medicare instead of trying to give Americans “free stuff” all the time. Yes, Americans getting free stuff will poll well, but haven’t Americans done just fine without more proposed free stuff? Yes, they have.

There’s plenty to do. Mr. Biden, as you hit the reset button, remember that your greatest success, the Infrastructure Bill, came when you worked with Republicans.

Put in more of that kind of effort and you will have the opportunity to bring America together.

Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years. He is the host of the “We Speak Frankly” podcast.