President Biden: off the radar or focused?
By the time this article reaches the internet, the presidential elections are almost 5 months behind us. On the 20th of January, 2021, Joseph R. Biden was inaugurated in Washington, DC as the oldest president yet, together with the first woman of color as vice-president, Kamala Harris. During and shortly after the elections, it was almost impossible to stay away from all the news about Biden vs. Trump and their campaigns. Now that Biden has stepped into office, we do not seem to hear a lot anymore. Is this because not much has happened, or simply because we now have a president who is not focused on tweeting and causing drama all day?
President Biden via Instagram (@potus)
To answer this question, one needs to take a closer look at everything President Biden has done since he stepped into office. One of the first things President Biden did was to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. He talked about this during his campaign and made it a priority once he started his term in office. Former President Trump decided to leave the agreement because ‘it [the Paris Climate Accord] is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries.’ (Donald J. Trump, 1st of June, 2017).
Next to this, on the 21st of January, President Biden signed an executive order issuing a mask mandate on federal property. This is one of the many steps he has taken in the battle against the coronavirus. Some other Covid-19 related executive orders that were signed to regain control are:
Exercise the Defense Production Act to ramp PPE and vaccine production
Expand testing, treatment, and the workforce
Mount a comprehensive vaccination campaign
Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel
Address racial and other disparities in COVID impact and care
As described above, President Biden has a very different approach in trying to get the pandemic under control than former President Trump. Trump has repeatedly played down the effectiveness of facemasks and even mocked Joe Biden for wearing them. Whereas Trump did not acknowledge the sincerity of the situation, Biden has taken measures and steps to control (the spreading of) the virus.
In addition, Biden also managed to undo some of Trump’s initiatives; for example, he reversed the Muslim Ban. This ‘Trump Travel Ban’ denotes a series of actions caused by former President Trump to keep Muslims from entering the United States. Biden also re-engaged with the World Health Organization; an organization which Trump had broken all ties with on the 29th of May 2020. Trump argued that China had full control over the World Health Organization and they ‘had failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms’. Biden also repealed the transgender military ban which was also enforced by Trump on the 26th of July, 2017.
All of the actions described above took place within the first 5 days in office. If we look a bit further into the last couple of months, Biden has made enormous progress in America’s battle against Covid-19. As of the 8th of April, more than 150 million vaccines had been administered. This happened within the first 75 days of his Administration. The aim is to reach 200 million within the first 100 days. America went from one of the ‘losers of Covid-19’ to a country that is successfully tackling the virus.
However, one also needs to take a look at the negative things that have occurred since Biden stepped into office on the 20th of January. The United States is currently dealing with a border crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. There has been an increase of 28% in migrants from January to February 2021. Even though Biden criticized Trump a lot during his campaign about his migration policy and his plans to build a wall on the border to Mexico, he has not done much to solve the problem himself. He has stopped the construction of the wall that Trump wanted and has vowed a more humane stance on immigration, but the recent surge in migrants has given the Republicans a reason to criticize Biden. They frame this crisis as the ‘Biden Border Crisis’. One should not forget that the Trump Administration was already dealing with a lot of issues surrounding the U.S.-Mexican border, but Biden has not yet done much to make the situation better. Even though Biden has reversed a lot of Trump’s former policies, he has kept some of Trump’s migration policies in place.
Looking at the bigger picture, one can definitely say that Biden has done a lot so far. He is willing to take action in order to get Covid-19 under control again. Former President Trump has been reluctant for too long which has caused the country to be taken over by the virus. Biden has stepped up as a leader in this crisis and tries to get the country through it. However, he should not forget that there are other pressing issues that are currently taking place, like the border crisis that was mentioned above. Even though the main priority might be to get the virus under control, he should not forget the promises that he made during the election.