The mixed bag of Biden’s first year

Zoe Stratos | opinions editor

Jan. 27, 2022

The news this past week has been an overload of reviews and numbers on President Joe Biden’s first year in office.

The start of Biden’s presidency was less than normal, leading off with the Jan. 6 insurrection that disrupted the count of electoral votes necessary to officially place the former vice president in office.

Despite the rocky start, Biden was sitting at a comfortable 60% approval rating from the public, even though many voters said that it’s not that they particularly loved Biden  — they just didn’t like former President Donald Trump; They felt it was time for a different president to take us back to normalcy.

But as Biden’s first year progressed, approval ratings continually dropped, and Covid-19 continually ravaged the nation as the Omicron variant emerged. It’s safe to say Biden’s first year has been a mixed bag, and typical of that of a politician: he promised big, delivered little.

The drop in approval rating, sitting currently at a low 43%, has little to do with being too liberal or too old, but more so toward his decision-making skills in important issues such as Covid, Afghanistan policy and voting-reform legislation.

Biden and his administration are too reactive in every situation.

First and foremost, the Covid pandemic was one of the main talking points during the presidential debates. Both Trump and Biden promised to bring the country back from the devastation the virus caused for two years, yet it’s still here and cases are surging.

Recently, the Biden administration approved and sent out four at-home Covid tests for each household in the United States, but the distribution could have come much earlier in the presidency — before the Omicron variant spread rapidly through the country. Although the country is at fault for disregarding calls for vaccination, and general Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the administration should have expected it, and acted sooner.

On top of the reactive decision to send out the tests, it was also poorly thought out, causing many colleges and apartment complexes across the nation to miss out on home delivered tests due to having the same address.

Moreover, many of the bills proposed for vaccine mandates within the workplace have been rejected, and seen as an overstep of the executive branch upon the American people. Opinion aside, legally, Biden should have seen the Supreme Court decision coming from a mile away.

In early September, Biden made the decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan while the Taliban reclaimed control of the nation. Though he was correct in omitting lies about reports regarding the progress of the war in Afghanistan, his reactive and chaotic decision to pull out troops without thought for citizens only undermines American hegemony, and sows doubt in U.S. commitment to international cooperation. The failure was one of domestic and international concern.

The latest agenda item has been voter suppression. Ever since the 2020 election, voting rights has been at the forefront of Capitol conversation, yet little action has been taken by Biden and Congress to assure voters of their safety. Two weeks ago, the Biden administration traveled to Atlanta to speak on the issues, calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.

Instead of facing the issue head-on earlier, as he mentioned 19 states enacted 34 laws attacking voter rights in 2021, he waited until 400 more bills were proposed this year to take action.

But even with little delivery in certain departments, he’s done fairly well in others.

A major talking point of his campaign was his unrelenting support for striking workers and labor unions. The president supported strikes at John Deere, Kellogg’s and unionization of Amazon workers in Alabama.

Moreover, in 2021, the economy added a record 6.4 million jobs, according to a report by CBS News, with the unemployment at 3.9% as of December 2021. The rate dropped from 6.3% at the start of his presidency.

Looking forward into the president’s second year in office, we can expect to see more regarding the infrastructure plan — a major pillar in Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

In November 2021, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, even with Joe Manchin’s staunch opposition to it.

If all goes well, the next five years will touch everything from bridges to roads, as well as new water and energy systems, cementing a major victory for Biden after a reactive presidency during his first year.

The U.S. is watching the president closely, so he must start delivering. The next three years may be his last.