Chloe Asack ‘22
Note: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire staff at The Lawrencian or Lawrence High School. Readers are welcome to share their thoughts on this opinion piece in a respectful discussion.
What Joe Biden’s presidency meant two months ago is very different from what it means today. On January 20, Biden’s presidency was the light at the end of the tunnel. After four years of Trump, which included a transgender military ban, the end of The Violence Against Women Act, three republican Supreme Court Justices, and an attempted coup—I personally took a sigh of relief. Biden’s inauguration was a win for democracy—the official end of Trump’s unfounded months-long legal battles. Arguably even more important, women across the country, young and old, finally got to see themselves in the White House: Kamala Harris was the first woman, Asian American, and Black woman to be Vice President of the United States. Her victory was no small feat, and the symbolism it carries will inspire women across America for years to come. On Inauguration Day, many Americans rejoiced, happy to see the reign of Trump end and an era of hope begin. Democrats have reveled that politics are “boring” again. Many major news outlets such as The New York Times and NPR have drawn comparisons between Biden and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the most liberal presidents in the nation’s history. Broadway star Idina Menzel went viral for tweeting that her son said, “Mommy no more kids in cages!” It was a moment of hope and of great expectations for the next four years.
The reality of Biden’s presidency, however, pales in comparison.
In his campaign, Biden promised a pause on deportations for the first 100 days of his presidency, and yet there have been over 25,000 estimated deportations in the first 42 days. He has ordered airstrikes on Syria without congressional approval, for which he has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress alike. Going against his promise to undo former President Trump’s strict immigration policies, Biden reopened a “migrant facility” from Trump’s era. In spite of the cries of joy from Idina Menzel and her son, very unfortunately, there are still kids in cages.
Trump supporters were heavily criticized by Democrats for their unwavering worship of President Trump, and I think it would be extremely hypocritical for Biden supporters to turn around and do the exact same thing. Presidents, like all politicians, are the employees of American citizens and not only should they be treated as such, they must be treated as such. A passive and lenient attitude to politics for the next four years would land the country right back where it was in 2016–with an unsatisfied and unified conservative wing and a left wing that was not prepared to combat it.
With the recent rise of an American far-left wing–communists, socialists, etc.–there is more visible criticism of Biden from the left than there ever has been with past Democratic presidents. These self-identified leftists make a point to distinguish themselves from democrats; they are anti-capitalist, anti-imperialists who push for even more progressive policies than American democrats. And they have made a point of critically examining Biden’s choices. However, with their criticisms has come pushback from both Republicans and Neoliberal democrats. Republicans say that the left is eating their own, and Neoliberals say that criticisms of the left from the left will split the left-wing vote. Republicans will likely never agree with leftists. However, attacks on leftists from democrats need to end.
Not only should democrats stop attacking the farther left for their criticisms of Biden, but they themselves should also be criticizing him. Are all democrats expected to pick up the Communist Manifesto and rep the hammer and sickle? Of course not. But as was previously mentioned, it is necessary to the future of American politics that democrats stay active over the next four years and push for change. Racial discrimination is still prevalent in the country, climate change is still a pressing issue, and our immigration policies have not significantly improved. Therefore, even the most moderate democrats need to urge their politicians to vote for more extreme progressive policies--including their democratic politicians.
Trump’s bigotry is obvious. From his calls to execute the falsely accused Central Park Five in the 90s to his deeply misogynistic comments, it is hard to ignore his blatant acts of discrimination. Biden, like most politicians, is much more subtle. Biden wrote the 1994 crime bill, which led to the mass incarceration of black and brown Americans. In 2020, Biden was accused of rape by Tara Reade, an allegation that has gotten a disproportionately small amount of media attention for its gravity. Rather than reallocating funds from police forces to community endeavors, as most supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have suggested, Biden wants to add even greater funds to police forces to combat racial discrimination. While Biden’s problematic track record may be buried, and may be less obvious than Trump’s, it still exists. And after the past summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, more Americans than ever have taken to educating themselves on systemic racism. What will you say if/when Biden implements these counterintuitive policies? Silence is not an option.