As featured in Edition 39, available here.
BY GEORGE MILES (2nd year - Politics and International Studies - Nottinghamshire, UK)
When inaugurated on January 20th 2021, Joe Biden had a +17% approval/disapproval rating, according to FiveThirtyEight. However, this has now fallen to -9% (at the time of writing), implying that his presidency has been a failure thus far. The period since his inauguration has been consequential, with deaths from COVID-19 almost reaching 800,000, the end of US involvement in Afghanistan, a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, and a $1.9 trillion stimulus package all occurring on Biden’s watch. In addition to the political twists and turns of his term so far, the Democrats have lost the Virginia governorship and only barely managed to retain the same position in New Jersey. There is now a sense of inevitability that the Republicans will regain control of at least one House of Congress, with a belief among commentators that they will take control of both chambers by 2023.
Joe Biden announced US withdrawal from Afghanistan with broad public support, however it is now one of the biggest talking points for Republicans. The Taliban, harbourers of Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11, swept to power following the announcement of America’s withdrawal. Biden was adamant that the US would withdraw; it wasn’t going to fight in a war that the Afghan people were not willing to fight themselves, even if 45,000 members of the Afghan security forces died between 2014 and 2019. However, he did admit the withdrawal had been ‘far from perfect’ and acknowledged that criticism was inevitable. What ought not to be forgotten is that Biden was implementing a Trump-era deal, however the new administration was responsible for the consequences. As a result, he will be remembered as the President whose actions resulted in the return to power of a terrorist-harbouring group, that shot girls, like Malala Yousafzai, for wanting an education.
Domestically, Biden has managed to pass almost $3 trillion dollars of new spending. This has been described as “Marxist” by Senators such as Florida’s Marco Rubio, but passed with some Republican support. Biden believed this ended gridlock in Washington over infrastructure, and claimed victory. Nevertheless, the President’s poll ratings have remained at low levels following the bill’s passage, and whilst not the only indicator of success, such ratings will be the determining factor in his ability to win a second term, should he decide to run. It could be argued that the benefits of infrastructure will not be seen for a long period; it could take years for some of the bigger projects to start. However, if the public aren’t enthusiastic about the bill shortly after passage, then it will be difficult to persuade people that the huge cost is worthwhile during the bill’s five-year period.
Both Virginia and New Jersey are considered Democratic states, with Biden winning both by double digits in November 2020. However, the Democrats only just held the New Jersey governorship and lost in Virginia. When Biden visited Virginia, a portion of his speech was dedicated to attacking Trump and the Republican Party. This implies that the Democratic mantra of ‘we are bad, but they are worse’ isn’t working, as this has resulted in the party losing a governorship in a ‘blue’ state. If Biden is unable to convince those in the Democratic heartlands, winning over those in swing states will prove even more of a challenge. If recent election results are to be the judge, the Biden presidency has been a failure as the Democrats cannot even retain control in their ‘safe states.’ However, it is important to note that these do not always correlate to the success of a President, but they can demonstrate the impact of the President’s policies on the electorate.
In conclusion, the Biden presidency has so far not been a success. Whilst stimulus and infrastructure bills have been passed, the Afghanistan withdrawal was a failure according to Biden himself, and his poll ratings have plummeted, with the Democrats unable to win in their heartlands. Therefore, thus far it could be argued that Biden’s presidency has been a disaster in the eyes of many Americans.
However, if history is anything to go by, the Biden presidency may still be a success. During the same time in the Obama Presidency, the Democrats lost a Senate seat in Massachusetts, but went on to pass a landmark healthcare bill and win re-election.
Yes, the Biden administration has struggled so far, but all is not lost.
Image: Flickr (Prachatai)