For many Americans, Jan. 20 was a day overwhelmed with celebration, relief and piling bottles of champagne. Joe Biden is now officially the 46th president of the United States and has already engaged with a variety of mountain-high issues that have waited for him in the Oval Office. At Lewis & Clark, we like to pride ourselves on holding powerful people accountable while advocating for our policy goals. That being said, I would say Biden has made significant accomplishments in his first few weeks, but such feats should not lessen the need to hold him accountable.
So far, 10.5% of Americans, roughly 34 million people, have received the COVID-19 vaccine. On Feb. 12, President Biden announced that 300 million more Americans will be vaccinated by July of this year. Considering the Trump administration executed few strategies to address the devastation of the pandemic and left little foundation for the incoming president-elect, the Biden administration has hit the nail on the head in terms of expediting the ordering and distribution of vaccines. Needless to say, it is refreshing to have a commander in chief who advocates for social distancing, wearing masks and treating science as a legitimate source of information. Knowing that BIPOC communities, incarcerated people and homeless people have been hit hardest by the pandemic, my hope is that President Biden will ensure that these communities are neither left behind nor pushed aside in the process of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the general population.
In addition to accelerating vaccine rollout, on his first day of office, Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States helped draft the 2015 agreement, which outlines ways in which countries should prioritize environmentalism to prevent global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. According to NPR, global temperatures have increased a little over 1 degree Celsius since before industrial times. Forbes magazine writes that millennials and Generation Z, unsurprisingly, are those most concerned about climate change. Rejoining this agreement may be one of many policies Biden needs to enact in order to gain the trust of younger people.
The Biden administration is considered to have one of the most diverse Cabinets in presidential history. Out of all of Biden’s Cabinet choices, women make up 33%, white men constitute 40%, people of color make up 40% and those with government experience constitute 93%. Another important highlight of the diversity within this administration is Biden’s nomination of Rachel Levine, a trans woman doctor who awaits confirmation to serve as assistant secretary of health. While many of us LC students seldom wished to have another wealthy white man as our president, we should acknowledge the ways in which this administration is incorporating the right people in the right places.
While I do think Biden has made some decent choices in his first weeks in office, we progressives still need to hold him accountable. Much like former President Barack Obama, progressive voters and politicians believe Biden is too centrist. Many Americans have urged Biden to grant migrants a path to citizenship, but so far, Biden is asleep at the wheel. The president also recently held a meeting with 10 Republican senators to discuss a COVID-19 relief bill. Even though Biden refused to reduce the amount proposed in his relief bill at Republicans’ request, many leftists are concerned with his willingness to work with politicians across the aisle. Because Americans have witnessed the spineless nature of the Republican Party these past four years, it feels a bit too soon to dismiss Republican legislators’ wrongdoings.
I do not think Biden will ever be my favorite president, and I am sure many of my peers at LC would agree, but he is a good transition from the previous pernicious presidency of Donald Trump.
This article presents opinions held by the author, not those of The Pioneer Log and its editorial board.