Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States of America on the 20th of January earlier this year. Amid COVID-19, the familiar crowds of people were replaced by millions of American flags. The event itself was a spectacle, with the loud absence of former president Donald Trump. His lack of presence was felt awkwardly throughout the event, although he was in-directly spoken of several times during the proceedings. As many focused on the monochromatic fashion displayed, and the star-studded appearances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, it was a pop culture moment. For the millions of Americans that had voted for Biden, this was the moment that seemed to be under threat a mere two weeks prior. The inauguration was the precious preservation of democracy that was in danger of disappearing.
Biden’s Inauguration speech was emotive; whilst passively condemning his predecessor’s faults, he signalled his hope for America under his leadership. His call for unity emphasised the prevalence of this in surviving COVID-19, racial injustices and tensions that are rife in America. It was for many a day that they could finally let out the breath they had been holding unknowingly for four years. With the sun setting on that day, Joe Biden was ready to work, prepared to put into action what he had promised America.
Joe Biden’s first week in office was marked with the constant stream of executive orders he issued. Biden is in a hurry to eliminate the mistakes Trump has made for the past four years. In many ways, Biden can not executively order his way out of many of the crises that America faces.
Biden’s first month of the presidency was plagued by Trump’ second impeachment. The news coverage and media were focused on how Trump’s impeachment would turn out. At least for the first 100 days, Biden’s presidency will be overshadowed by Trump’s legacy. Biden is a traditional politician, one who is familiar with appeasing a crowd. Biden is not making any explicit promises, with setting expectations low for deadlines on vaccination roll-out and returning to normalcy. Whilst speaking in Michigan, he said the following: “God willing, this Christmas will be different than last, but I can’t make that commitment to you.”
Like other world leaders, dealing with COVID-19 is their most pressing issue. Biden’s administration has estimated to roll out the vaccination to 100 million Americans by the 20th of March. Biden’s administration is eager to defeat COVID-19, reopen businesses, schools, and international travel to help the economy. President Biden has managed to secure the economic relief bill worth 1.4 trillion pounds, which is cause for celebration amongst the administration. The bill is mainly focused on providing a proportion of Americans with a one-off payment of $1,400. The rest of the money will be used to aid those who are poverty-stricken and provide funding for local governments.
However, Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate on the 2nd of March, in a rush to revitalise businesses in the state. His rush decision could see other state governors following his steps and essentially prolonging America’s return to normality. Joe Biden has his work cut-out.
America faces many problems, and the need to take steps to repair the racial injustices and tyranny of white supremacy that has plagued America since the first settlers in 1607. Despite this, in his first month as president, Biden has taken time to open up children detention centres and air strike Syria.
Many were startled to hear about America air striking Syria again; during Obama’s administration in 2016 alone, America bombed Syria 26,171 times. Many among Congress criticised the approach because they had not been briefed about carrying out the airstrike. Although interest in the Middle East will never be foreign to any American president, we are left to wonder whether Biden will perpetuate the excessive airstrikes in the Middle East like Obama’s administration. Only time will tell.
Biden’s administration has made moves to reopen children detention centres for unaccompanied children. The administration aims to provide services for children that are focused on their welfare. However, the very notion of detaining children seems to go against their welfare interests. As many more vulnerable children arrive at America’s borders unaccompanied, is this the future for America? The establishment of many more detention centres? As rosy as the picture is being painted of outdoor facilities, classrooms, and personal hygiene facilities, the very notion of detaining children seems inhumane. These vulnerable children will be imprisoned in the land of the free.
As I have written before, Biden is not America’s saviour; he is merely a mirage. His first month has highlighted the limitations of his administration and the limits of a traditional presidency. For what is the Democratic Party but republican policies persevering?
Written by Tinaeke Kilwake