President Biden’s first year in office has been subpar, at best
American President Joe Biden has made it through his first year in office. What a year to be President. Of the many events that occurred within the last year, COVID-19 remains a pivotal problem as it continues to impact livelihoods and the global economy. To a certain point, Biden’s administration has been observed with even greater scrutiny. Therefore, it must be asked: has Biden been a success or failure?
Biden has been interesting to observe as, in many ways, he has maintained the inward-oriented approach to governance that was prevalent in former President Trump’s administration. This can be seen with his strengthening of the Buy American Act via executive order. Such a shift however is not unusual for governments in the COVID-19 world. To a certain point, it is expected.
This inward shift has curated some of Biden’s successes. I would argue that his administration’s COVID-19 plan has been relatively successful. I use the term “relative” as there is an inevitable margin of error that one must account for in a pandemic. The government rollout of free COVID-19 test kits has been seen as a good thing— especially as it helps to ensure that precautionary measures can be taken at the individual level.
Moreover, his administration’s American Rescue Plan, which expanded unemployment payments and created a temporary child tax credit, has served as an effective means of restoring domestic trust in the American federal government.
Although this domestic shift has been effective in health policy, it has also served as the antithesis of US foreign policy. The American withdrawal from Afghanistan has arguably been an embarrassment, which Biden stated as an expense issue. While I staunchly oppose interventionism as a principle, I do not think that withdrawal in such haste was wise or safe. The international community will continue to look to Biden with concern as the Taliban cement their rule in Afghanistan.
Perhaps this is why the Russian Armed Forces are so publicly gathering at the Ukraine border. Just like Trump, Biden has not been able to secure himself as a reliable global leader; not since Obama has there been such a figure to represent US hegemony.
Another failure of Biden’s relates to the US-Mexico border, which remains a contentious issue in the country. Record levels of migrants, both legal and illegal, are entering the United States. His administration has committed to strategies that allot protection to asylum seekers at the border. Despite these plans, the President has not delivered on any concrete execution of this.
The lack of attention paid to the issue of the US-Mexico border will continue to become an issue for Biden, his supporters and his opponents. former will believe that he is complacent on the issue and the latter will exaggerate the border issue with the help of Republican politicians mobilising border fears through security rhetoric.
Biden is complacent. If his administration wants to succeed in the future, it will have to ground itself a little more in principle. Excluding COVID measures and plans, this administration seems to be dissatisfied with its supporters, which I cannot imagine is ideal.
In many ways, Biden represents the old Democrat (literally!): He is grounded in a centrist position that is neither left or right-leaning. With younger radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raising their voices within the Democratic Party, there seems to be a division between the old and new. This new dynamic will be tough for Biden to address if he continues on this trajectory. Vice President Kamala Harris cannot help with this, either.
Another consideration is the midterm election that is to happen in November of this year, which is said to play out in favour of the Republican Party. Thus, collaboration and grit will be necessary in order for this administration to be able to achieve its goals for the remainder of his first term.
Of course, I do not wish to be polemic. One cannot forget that a President, or any government head for that matter, cannot accomplish everything that they outline in one year. Additionally, sometimes a President’s achievements are only apparent after their presidency.
While Biden’s first year has been subpar at best, it does not necessarily mean that he is doomed for 2024. After all, former President Reagan had a 35 per cent approval rating in 1983, which does not represent the popularity he would garner later in his presidency.
Biden’s future depends on his ability and not the fact that he is not Trump.