By Alessia Anderson
As I thought about a topic related to justice for my article, one of the first things that came to mind was America and their rather hostile election atmosphere earlier this year. Media headlines, twitter chains plagued with capital letters and international anxiety has seemed to dramatically decrease since Biden’s inauguration on 20 January 2021. I was curious to discover why nearly half the nation who voted for Trump have achieved a state of calmness and if America thrives with the Democrats in the Oval Office. Hence, I have compiled a list of the big actions Biden – alongside Kamala – has achieved in these past four months that have worked to restore justice, order and happiness in America; or at least settled a nation that was creeping towards collapse not so long ago.
A mere two weeks after the terrorist attack on the US Capitol occurred, the Biden Administration sworn into office committed to tackle numerous executive orders which focused upon major reversals of certain Trump policies and tackling COVID-19. Inauguration Day made history as Biden became the oldest President-elect to ever hold the title as a 77 year old, and Harris became the first Black and Asian-American woman to hold the VP position in the White House. In case you missed it, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez delivered the National Anthem, before Amanda Gorman (the youngest inaugural poet ever) read “Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished… for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it”.
On April 28, Biden delivered his first Presidential address to Congress, where he addressed a joint session of the House of Senate and opened his speech with “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President. No President has ever said those words from this podium, no president has ever said those words. And it’s about time!” Hours after being sworn in, Biden had signed over 15 executive orders, the majority of which reversed Trump’s policies, a figure which has now grown to over 60.
Furthermore, during his first 100 days, he signed 11 bills into law. One was the prominent American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which intends to provide broad economic relief and increase distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Another law added sesame to the list of allergens for food labelling requirements. A third allows US Senators and Senate committees to share employees. He also re-joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, revoked some of Trump’s border measures and proposed a sweeping infrastructure plan. Among other campaigns he has proposed reforms in immigration, criminal justice and police matters.
Where Franklin D Roosevelt in the 1930s could count on Democratic majorities in Congress to vote many of the President’s proposed ideas into law, Biden has been unable to accomplish the same so far, with the Senate filibuster preventing Biden to match FDR’s speed and level of accomplishments. Nevertheless, his actions highly contrast Trump’s first 100 days in office, which featured government malfunctions considering the failure of his promised repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and massive protests which sought to ban the entry of Islamic citizens into the US and suspend refugee entry.
Biden has also undergone extensive efforts to tackle the pandemic. Primarily, he ensured the US re-joined the World Health Organisation and is considering launching a ‘100 Days Masking Challenge’. On 22 February after it was confirmed 500,000 Americans had passed away because of the virus, Biden attended a candlelight vigil with 500 candles to honour lives lost, before he addressed the nation preaching for justice and unity saying, “We must end the politics and misinformation that’s divided families, communities and the country… we have to fight this together as one people”. This energy is now being poured into vaccine distribution logistics.
Biden is also set to launch a whole-government initiative to advance racial equity which will include ‘cultural competency’, ‘Identifying Methods to Assess Equity’ and ‘Allocating Federal Resources to Advance Fairness and Opportunity’. The President has made a public pledge to crack down on xenophobia against Asian-Americans in the wake of an increase in violence and harassment during the pandemic, which some argue has been fuelled by Trump’s frequent references to the ‘China virus’. Following the announcement of the guilty verdict given to former police officer Derek Chauvin on April 20, Biden and Kamala delivered a poignant world address explaining that although the jury’s decision was “a giant step towards justice in America,” it was ultimately “not enough”, declaring that systemic racism is “a stain on our nation’s soul”.
Ultimately, I could go on and on about the extensive other motions Biden has or is currently addressing in areas of immigration, climate change, LGTBQ+ rights, gun control and racial equity. Biden’s executive orders and actions have already set a wholly different tone from the last administration – a pensive and ethically driven one that has appropriately addressed poignant national issues. As to what we can expect for the next 100 days and the remainder of his term is unknown, yet it is set to be marked by the hopeful and unifying message of his inaugural address where he preached “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the cause of democracy”.