• MaKenzie Munson

The Start of the Biden Presidency

“Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness for there is so much to do. . . Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children?”

Just about a month ago, the United States inaugurated Joseph Robinette Biden as the 46th president of the United States. He concluded his inaugural address with a call to action for every American to join him in working together to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, systemic racism, the growing climate crisis, and a slew of other life-changing issues currently affecting our country.

After the ceremonial transfer of power, President Biden wasted no time and began passing executive orders at a rapid pace. On the day of inauguration, he signed nine orders, most of which focused on COVID-19 regulations and the reversal of former President Donald Trump’s orders. According to the Federal Register, Biden has published 30 executive orders as of February 10, 2021. These orders address immigration, COVID-19 relief and guidelines, civil rights and the climate crisis. The COVID-19 guidelines, specifically ones that pertain to mask-wearing, are some of the first federal mandates the country has seen since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago. Each of the executive orders passed marks a strong turn away from former President Trump’s time in office as Biden makes continual efforts to reverse many of his previous social and economic policies.

While Biden makes history with the sheer number of executive orders he has passed so far, his cabinet and advisors also stand to be the most diverse this country has ever witnessed. According to NPR, details of each of Biden’s administrative choices and whether they have been confirmed by the Senate were revealed to the public. Most notable of the picks were Pete Buttigieg, General Lloyd Austin, Deb Haaland and Miguel Cardona. Buttigieg was confirmed by the Senate on February 2 and is the first openly LGBTQ person to receive a permanent cabinet position. General Lloyd Austin has also been confirmed and is the first Black Secretary of Defense. While Haaland and Cardona await Senate confirmation, they stand to be the first Native American person in a Cabinet role and the first Secretary of Education of Puerto Rican descent, respectively. There are plenty of other people within the Biden administration who represent the diversity he wishes to achieve, hoping to become a more representative microcosm of the United States.

The divisiveness that came with last November’s election means that many students have their opinions about Biden’s presidency and his actions thus far. Despite the monumental measures passed during his first month in office, students on both the right and left still understand the importance of criticism in order to hold our elected officials responsible. Representatives from USF’s student political clubs, Saints for Progress and St. Francis Conservatives, offered their critiques regarding the Biden presidency.

Diego Quevedo Carrasco, a leader of Saints for Progress, speaks highly of Biden’s decision to end American support for the Saudis in Yemen and his plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. However, he says that “with a Democratic Senate and House there should be way more ambition in [his] agenda.” He also criticizes Biden’s lack of accountability in regards to stimulus checks. Carrasco explains, “He claimed to support $2,000 checks after the $600 in December were already sent out and now believes that people should only receive $1,400 checks. He should deliver on his promise to get everyone $2,000 checks.”

Clayton Yde, president of the St. Francis Conservatives, lauds Biden’s efforts to enhance national security via denying the migrant caravan entrance into the country during the pandemic. Similarly, regarding Covid vaccinations: “I’d like to compliment Joe on not making it a federal mandate to take the COVID-19 vaccine as it uses stem cell research and is against my faith.” However, Yde maintains some criticism of some decisions already made by the Biden administration. Yde’s first criticism is in regards to abortion, stating that “taxpayer funding of abortions both at home and abroad, especially in scenarios where a culture prioritizes male children which leads to sex-selective abortions” was the first low point in Biden’s presidency. Yde also criticizes the decision to rejoin the WHO. “WHO, who played a large role in the spread of the pandemic by taking China’s word at face value,” Yde comments.

While having a few successes in the first month of his presidency, Biden is not immune from the opinions of the right and left, just as he promised to be a “President for all citizens” upon his inauguration. His job over the next four years is to find a proper balance between appeasing both sides while making truth on the promises with which he so fervently campaigned.

Only time will tell of the successes and failures associated with the Biden presidency. His inaugural address sparked hope in the hearts of many who felt unrepresented by former President Trump. Will he keep the promises he made? It is the duty of every American citizen to demand our elected officials uphold the oath they take upon swearing in and satisfy their constituents’ needs.

Will Biden answer the questions he posed at the end of his inaugural address through action? Will he bring about the changes he campaigned so passionately for? Will American citizens receive the follow through they deserve?

In his inaugural address, Biden remarks, “Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will.”

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