Why Joe Biden’s Presidency will be significant

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Joe Biden is secure in the White house. After four years of what can be described as the most turbulent political years in recent memory, the Democrats have got their candidate into the Executive office, albeit with a less than favourable margin. It is certainly the opinion of many in America that Biden’s election, although favourable, will yield nothing of consequence. He has, after all, been dropped into the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu in 1918, and no matter his plans to mitigate the impacts of this colossal event, it will surely cripple the U.S. economy for years to come. Both the Senate and the house of Representatives are in precarious positions for the Democrats, meaning huge amounts of power have been transferred to formerly insignificant figures, such as Joe Manchin; a democratic senator from conservative West Virginia. Additionally, his predecessor’s heavily criticised handling of Covid-19 has not done Biden any favours, nor Trump’s obstinate attitude towards the outcome of the election.

However in many ways, Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic has given Biden a head-start in his efforts to control the coronavirus in America. As any failures on Biden’s part will be masqueraded as the fall-out from the Trump Presidency, his coronavirus response’s legacy is surely protected. But that it not an entirely fair analysis of his situation, because the danger of the Trump administration’s resurgence may prove to be a persisting threat to the Biden Presidency. With an already well-established and bold base, Trump’s words still carry a lot of weight, which is all the more important when considering that 59% of Republicans want the former President to become the nominee in 2024.

It looks as though Biden’s 2020 rival has not given up the fight yet, either. Although relegated from a previously imposing social-media position, Donald Trump has drawn on his impassioned support base to polarise public opinion, and from that perspective, he has certainly succeeded. When taking office, Joe Biden had a 53.2% approval rating, one of the lowest of any Presidents since the end of the second world war. Moreover, his disapproval rating stands at the highest level ever for a President, bar Trump, at 34.7% on the day he took office. Biden could very well be overshadowed by Trump’s lingering presence within the Republican party.

Considering these factors then, it might be sensible, if not a little cynical, to assume that Biden’s time in office will be unmemorable. The truth is that Joe Biden will be one of the most significant leaders of our life times.

Biden cannot afford to be complacent in his reaction to the pandemic, both for American’s sake and if he wants to have any chance at making systemic changes. It is inarguable that Biden’s manifesto is expensive, and so a quick economic recovery is necessary, but more crucial is his need for public support. Many of the issues that Biden stands on will divide Americans, but with strong leadership and reconciliatory attitude, he may yet be able to progress society in a way that no other President has.

The coronavirus, although an international tragedy, presents a unique opportunity for the President. After the deaths of more than half a million Americans, Biden has the chance to make real change, as attitudes transition because of people’s experiences with the pandemic. The rhetoric of hope has become a larger staple within his addresses, accompanying a wider acceptance of government intervention as an obligation rather than a political stance. One poll from Statista recorded that 43% of Americans strongly support Biden’s ‘Covid-19 Economic Relief Package’, with the majority showing at least some support for the bill.

This trend should inspire confidence for an administration, whose main aims are an emphatic rejection of their predecessor’s beliefs. Setting out to halve carbon emissions by 2030, enacting a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, as well as trying to make progress on gun control in the next four years, will take a strong economy, and serious public engagement to become realities.

But if nothing else, Biden will contribute to the conversation. New discussions around healthcare, immigration and the size of government could inform debates across America. To get his policies through, Biden has to win the war of ideas first.

Biden’s ambition for America should not be taken lightly. He has already taken serious actions with the proposal of two mammoth bills, the likes of which has not been seen before. With the momentum of the Democratic party behind him, why would he give way to scepticism and not hope that his Presidency can preside over substantial progress on other issues?

How far will he get? Only time will tell. Regardless, his ambition will cause waves within America. Some fear that Biden presents a threat to their very way of life, whilst others consider him weak on fundamental democratic issues. Either way, his Presidency will be significant.