What Biden’s First Days As President Reveal About How He Will Govern

Biden spent his first days in office undoing Trump's worst executive orders, giving relief to Americans, and setting his presidential priorities.
Official Portrait of the 46th United States President, Joe Biden – January 2021 (White House)

Official Portrait of the 46th United States President, Joe Biden – January 2021 (White House)

After four years of division and damage, America has welcomed in a new era. The chaos that came with the last four years of Republican control is over and America has begun anew, with Joseph R. Biden Jr and Kamala Devi Harris having now formally taken office as the 46th President and 49th Vice President of the United States. We’re all familiar with what the country is putting behind it but, with Biden now in the Oval Office, what can we expect the future to look like?

Biden kicked off a new chapter in American politics before he was even sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol. In the morning of January 20, he invited congressional leaders from both parties to join him at a church service. Later, as the inauguration began, standing at the podium, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Roy Blunt delivered a joint message to the American people. This bipartisan outreach has been a defining feature of the President’s political career. Throughout his 36 years in the US Senate and 8 years in the Vice President’s office, he became known for his willingness to work with both sides of the aisle to secure progress, not for partisan gain, but for America’s benefit.

America needs to come together if it is going to be able to confront the pandemic that has crippled the nation and killed more than 400,000 people, as well as addressing crucial political issues that have been stuck in a stalemate. President Biden doesn’t just support the idea of unity or mention it in speeches, he embodies it. After all, the moment he won the election, he declared that he “doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States”. It’s a message he reiterated in his inaugural speech, as he embraced the ‘We the People’ motto the country was built on, explaining how “the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.”

Throughout the previous administration, we became accustomed to misinformation and downright lies, whether from the previous president or from his staff or sycophants who were installed to do his bidding. President Biden has made it abundantly clear that his administration will be different. Politicians have a duty and a responsibility to lead by example and fulfill their pledge to honor the constitution and protect the country, including defending honesty and defeating falsehoods. Instead of spinning for partisan gain, the 46th President has pledged to be open with the public, even when the truth is difficult to swallow, because one of the common features that define citizens is the truth.

Not only is the new administration striving to be honest, but it has absolutely ruled out using bluff and bluster that could dangerously confuse or cloud the minds of the public at a time when there needs to be trust in the White House and the information they are providing, if the Covid-19 pandemic is to be brought under control. That’s why it was so important for them to swiftly return not just to daily White House press briefings, but to briefings with medical experts who are doing their job properly, rather than doing their boss’s bidding.

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When Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared in the press briefing room this week, the country was able to breathe a sigh of relief that he was not being muzzled, as has been the case in recent months because his honest assessment of the situation was not politically advantageous for the then-occupant of the Oval Office. Dr. Fauci put it best when he commented that: “One of the new things in this administration is if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer.” In other words, no longer do officials need to fear for their jobs when discussing issues facing Americans. They can, once again, simply do their jobs without fear of retaliation by a petulant president.

When it comes to the new administration’s policy priorities, President Biden has already sent a clear message to the country and the world. Within hours of being sworn in, he’d signed 17 executive orders, more than any other president on their first day, to reverse measures implemented by his predecessor and provide relief to Americans. In doing so, Biden took meaningful steps to address not just coronavirus, although that’s arguably his biggest and most pressing challenge, but national and international issues that have been made worse or left gathering dust for the past four years.

Instead of waiting for Congress to get its act together, as Republicans try to slow down the progress Democrats can make with control of Congress and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Biden has heard Americans who’ve said these issues can’t be delayed any longer. Thus, he has started to tackle racial inequality, extended economic relief for Americans, begun an effective fight against the pandemic, and initiated action to protect the environment. Whilst the previous administration was about making the United States more inward-looking, discriminatory, and corrupt, the Biden team is the complete antithesis of all of these.

A phrase was shamelessly overused during the previous administration: ‘Promises made, promises kept.’. With President Biden in office, it’s a label that can be proudly worn by the Democratic Party as, even by close of play on his first day, a number of campaign pledges had already been fulfilled.

The US resumed its rightful place on the international stage, re-joined the World Health Organization, signed back up to the Paris Climate Agreement, hit the ground running as part of the mission to ‘Build Back Better’, removed the racist Muslim travel ban, listened to environmental experts by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 for federal workers, increase food assistance for Americans, and ended funding for the construction of the unnecessary and expensive wall on the US-Mexico border. While the last occupant of the White House spent his time playing golf, watching cable news, and ranting on Twitter, President Biden is delivering for America.

President Biden has only been in office for less than a week and the agenda for his first 100 days continues to take shape. It is already clear, however, that this is a clean break from what America has become accustomed to in the last four years. At a time when the United States was crying out for a steady hand to provide much-needed leadership from a base of relevant and well-informed experience, President Biden is rising to the occasion. He isn’t pretending that he has all the answers or that his presidency is going to be all sunshine and roses. In fact, he has openly accepted that, with regards to the ongoing pandemic, things are very likely to get worse before they get better. However, the American people can trust that, with Biden in power, many aspects of life will improve.

As White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said this week: “I think it’s safe to say that you can expect President Biden is not going to be breaking news at 1 a.m. on Twitter, so everybody can just take a deep breath and take a step back.” Biden’s approach will not be the headline-grabbing, sensationalized reality show we have all had to endure since 2016. Instead, it will be the calm and considered approach that the Oval Office demands from its occupant.

There’s a reason Biden won more votes than any other presidential candidate in history, and it’s not just because of how abhorrent his opponent was in the eyes of the majority of American voters. On the campaign trail, Biden talked about how the election was a battle for the soul of the nation. He’s now winning that fight by bringing truth, transparency, hope, optimism, and a progressive agenda back to the White House. That’s the vision we can expect from this new administration and it’s an approach that can, once again, enable all citizens of the USA to be proud of their country.

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Opinion // Coronavirus / Democratic Party / Economy / Joe Biden