After almost five seemingly never-ending days, on November 7, the result of the 2020 presidential election was announced: Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States. Democrats, and many observers worldwide, were finally able to exhale after four exhausting years under the Trump administration.
However, Biden’s presidency will not be the calm ride that many had longed for. Biden will be burdened with picking up after the chaos that the Trump administration brought — a task much easier said than done.
When it comes to COVID-19, the Democratic candidate has already laid out his plan for tackling the pandemic that has ravaged the country. Biden has already appointed a group of 13 advisors, made up of leading scientists and experts, to “help take the Biden-Harris COVID-19 [plan] and convert it into an action blueprint.” Many see this as a refreshing shift from the Trump administration’s continued denial of science. Donald Trump’s efforts to spread false information regarding the severity of this pandemic have only added to the work of President-elect Biden.
It seems as though every day, the United States surpasses a new record of COVID-19 cases. The total cases have now exceeded 10 million, and there have been over 200,000 deaths. Even amidst this national emergency with no clear end in sight, in July Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the World Health Organization (WHO) — an agency of the United Nations that has been vital in handling this global pandemic. Accordingly, among many of Biden’s “day one promises” — actions he vows to take in his first days in office — is to rejoin the WHO and the international community’s efforts to manage the virus.
Outlined in his seven-step plan to “beat COVID-19,” Biden has stated that he will work with state and local governments to issue a nationwide mask mandate—a stark contrast to many Republicans’ claims against the effectiveness of face masks. Biden has also affirmed that his administration will ensure that all Americans have access to reliable and free testing—another differentiation from Trump’s claims that America should offer less COVID-19 tests because “with less testing, [America] would have fewer cases.”
Despite the setbacks that Biden will inevitably face from many of Trump’s supporters, he has assured Americans that he will “spare no effort to turn around this pandemic.” The hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have lost their loved ones are counting on him to deliver on his promise and turn the trajectory of this pandemic around.
Another major concern for the new administration is racial justice. Biden will be inheriting a country divided by long-existing injustices. Just a few months ago, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protests broke out across the country, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. These protests prompted major controversies and harsh and oftentimes uncivil discourse around the state of racial injustice in the United States — much of which continues today.
Furthermore, throughout his presidency, Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric has given white supremacists and neo-fascist groups a platform. By emboldening these people to not only speak out but to take action on their bigoted beliefs, Trump has reinforced the existing dangerous environment for people of color in America.
Biden will be tasked with reclaiming this platform that the previous President wittingly gave to racist groups. The President-elect has largely run his campaign on the promise to face racial injustice and systemic racism head-on. Now, Biden’s voter base will be watching him closely and holding him to his word.
A third daunting issue for Biden is hyper-partisanship, which dates back to the very beginning of the two-party system in the early 1800s. But in the past four years, the Trump administration’s divisive actions and rhetoric have only deepened these divisions. This has become the underlying issue in many points of domestic political conflict.
Reaching across the aisle and working with fellow politicians from the Republican party will be imperative to the Biden administration’s success, but that may be the most challenging job that Biden faces. Without at least some support from both parties, it will be difficult for his administration to be very productive.
Exactly how Biden plans to unite such a starkly divided country continues to be unclear. However, he has expressed that while he is a “proud Democrat,” he will fight for every American regardless of who people voted for, and govern as an “American president.”
For those of us rejoicing in the win for the Democratic Party, we must be wary that all will not be smooth sailing after Trump leaves office. Beating Trump does not mean that “Trumpism” is defeated. Moreover, there has been irreversible damage done by both the actions and inactions of this administration.
Consequently, when Joe Biden assumes office, he will be inheriting a torn country in chaos. And fixing all of this is likely going to take more than just four years. Thus, Biden has acknowledged that it is simply not enough to just build America back to its state four years ago; we must now “Build back better.”