It’s been a week since we came up for air. Apprehension wears on a person, waking up every day and wondering what new embarrassment or horror was wrought upon our nation by the president the previous night. The Biden inauguration was a wonderful return to tradition and cathartic in its normalcy and dignity. But it also reminded us, by the waves of relief we felt washing over us, how intensely oppressed we had been feeling for the last four years of national disaster.
I’m easy, though. Tell me the new president is a decent human who isn’t a businessman and I’m pretty much sold. But President Biden has wracked up quite a first week, but it’s been low hanging fruit.
Biden campaigned on reversing most of the previous president’s executive orders on day one. Biden won the election handily, earning more votes for president than anyone in history, and that majority of Americans expects him to follow through.
He had a big day one that has stretched into week one. From ending the construction of walls and pipelines to stopping the intolerance of race-based travel bans and private prisons to ending arbitrary restrictions keeping a specific group of patriots from defending America, the president has been busy delivering on his promises to those of us who voted for him.
He’s restored the dignity of the White House press briefings by installing Jen Psaki as press secretary, someone competent at her job who is well spoken and respectful of both her office and of the fourth estate. He’s warned his staff that they will be fired on the spot for being disrespectful to others. He’s leveraging science-based approaches for ending COVID-19 and planning mitigations for climate change. He’s rejoining the international organizations and agreements that allow us to demonstrate the excellence that his critics both claim he denies and simultaneously want to keep to ourselves.
I have friends who are, unsurprisingly, bearish on the new administration. Whether they’re brainwashed by alternative-fact media, believers in conspiracy theories like the big lie that there was something wrong with the election, or, hopefully, are just old-school conservatives worried about big government and deficit spending, they wonder if those of us who voted for President Biden are happy with the first week.
I can’t speak for the majority of American voters who cast their votes for the president, but I can say with enthusiasm that I’m delighted with Biden’s first week. But I’m also cautiously skeptical about his future.
Strawman Biden, the caricature that the right makes him out to be in order to more easily attack him, is a godless communist. He’s a radical lefty who wants to end capitalism and America as we know it by banning fossil fuels, private insurance, religion, cows and guns. Strawman Biden wants to raise taxes for the working man and replace all stop signs with roundabouts.
The problem is that President Biden didn’t campaign like Strawman Biden and he sure isn’t governing like him. President Biden is a centrist, which is why he had such a hard time squeaking through the primary. He’s a Catholic who is probably the most religiously observant president we’ve had in a very long time. During the primary, President Biden actively campaigned against the policies of Strawman Biden, much to the chagrin of us liberals. President Biden is far too conservative for those of us who favor bold and immediate progress to a better future.
Time will tell if we’ll be able to push President Biden to be more progressive. He sure has the mandate to at least move us back to center after the debilitating rightward lurch we experienced during the last four years. He’s made a good start with the flurry of executive actions during his first week, but that’s the low-hanging fruit. We need more — much more. Here’s hoping we go past center towards a better future, and maybe even implement a few of Strawman Biden’s more reasonable positions — but definitely not the roundabouts.