May 7, 2021 | OPINION | By Emma McDermott | Illustration by Bibi Powers
Joe Biden hasn’t had it easy in the first months of his presidency — or throughout his life, for that matter. Inheriting the worst global health crisis in modern history, in tandem with a strained economy, intense political divisions and the disease with which this country has always been infected, racism, Biden has had to govern with poise and determination. And because of his thoughtfulness, empathy and intelligence, the U.S. is, as he likes to say, “back on track.”
In his first 100 days in office, President Biden wasted no time. A benchmark for the initial success of a presidential administration, the first 100 days is often a period during which presidents are afforded some leniency from the other party, but Biden has not enjoyed such bipartisanship. Despite disagreement from those across the aisle, Biden has done a good job advancing a progressive agenda and meeting the moment.
When Biden took office, he promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccination shots during his first 100 days. He was criticized for being too conservative with this goal, despite the extremely slow and mismanaged rollout overseen by the previous administration.
However, Biden announced last week that the U.S. has administered 200 million vaccinations since he was inaugurated, doubling the amount initially promised.
Biden has also made it a priority to get kids back in school for in-person learning. He and first lady Dr. Jill Biden visited classrooms in Virginia this week, in part to emphasize the importance of educational spending and to get students back in class.
During a Feb.16 CNN town hall, Biden clarified that he defined reopening as “five days a week” of in-person learning. While that goal has not been achieved nationwide, in-person instruction is up 33% from the week Biden took office.
On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order reversing former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. This was something former President Barack Obama had championed during his tenure, and Biden’s commitment to battling climate change helped restore America’s image as a global superpower.
Biden also named the most racially diverse cabinet in the history of the U.S. While his nominations were met with unexpected hostility from certain Senate Republicans, namely Josh Hawley, Biden was, for the most part, able to get his picks confirmed.
He signed an executive order reversing a Trump-era policy that banned most transgender Americans from joining the military. He even showed his cards on the day of the Derek Chauvin trial’s verdict, a move for which he was intensely criticized.
On the international front, Biden has revived the U.S.’ image on the world stage. Rather than posing for ridiculous photo ops, walking in front of Her Majesty the Queen or being mocked by other world leaders, as his predecessor did, Biden has issued sanctions on Russia in response to cyber hacks and election interference. He’s committed to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Biden has not politicized the country by pitting ideological rivals against each other. Instead, he has invited Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike to the White House to find areas of compromise. He has tried to lower the temperature of the political climate. He has worn a mask everywhere he goes — despite criticism from Fox News for this — and encouraged Americans everywhere to get vaccinated.
President Biden has done as good a job as can be realistically expected from him. There are most certainly areas of weakness, like his handling of immigration, especially at the southern border, but there’s also a lot he’s done right. If Biden’s first hundred days as president are any indication of what his tenure will look like, the U.S. and the rest of the world are in for a much better next several years than the previous ones.