Settling for Biden

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Issue 3, Volume 112

By Charlotte Peterson 

President Joe Biden’s unofficial campaign slogan, “Settle For Biden,” was frequently echoed by American progressives prior to the 2020 Democratic primaries. In an effort to remove the right-wing Donald Trump from office, many leftists opted to vote for the more moderate Biden, believing that he had the highest chance out of the Democratic nominees of unseating Trump. Biden was successfully elected, with progressives intending to put someone with more liberally aligned policies and campaign promises in office. However, not as much has changed from the previous presidency as was implied or outright stated, yet Biden is not receiving the same pushback from Democrats as Trump received for his empty words.

During the Trump administration, Biden criticized the mishandling of immigrants by the United States and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Biden’s official campaign site stated that placing children in cages is “wrong, and it stops when Joe Biden is elected president.” At the time Biden was elected, there were fewer migrants detained than at any other point in the past 20 years. Despite these promises, there has been a 70 percent increase in jailed immigrants since Biden took office. Though there has been bipartisan criticism of Biden for his handling of the influx in Haitian immigrants on our shores, he has not been condemned as much for the lack of change in the whole immigration system, which caused these very issues. Many Latin American migrants remain trapped in detention facilities from the Trump administration. Biden has not lived up to his promises to improve their lives, their unjust detainment, or the overall immigration process in any significant way.

Additionally, Biden has fallen short on racial justice. At the height of mainstream media visibility for Black Lives Matter in late summer 2020, Biden publicly addressed the racial injustices and systemic inequalities that Black Americans have dealt with since the founding of our country. He made campaign promises to work toward racial equality and reform the police and legal systems by creating a police oversight task force. However, many civil rights leaders did not agree with the creation of a task force, and activists called for the defunding of police and redistribution of funds to community programs. Biden did not comply with these requests and instead simply promised to create a task force, which has not been worked on either.

As the Black Lives Matter movement gradually exited the news cycle and was no longer used for performative activism, public calls for police reform died down. In accordance with this timeline, Biden’s initial promise to create a police oversight commission fell short. He claimed that his original plans for the commission would not be as effective as legislation, which he believed would make a longer lasting impact. The George Floyd bill—which would have made it easier to effectively prosecute police officers, according to Biden—did not succeed either, failing to pass by the Senate’s Republicans. While this result was not Biden’s fault, little racial justice has been achieved under Biden’s administration. His promise for an oversight commission slipped away despite the bill’s failure, and his pledge for racial justice fell through the cracks.

Biden has accomplished a lot in his first 250 days in office. He has more than fulfilled his promise of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccines, surpassing the 200 million mark on his 92nd day, and has created the most diverse cabinet in United States history. However, Biden still has unkept promises that need to be upheld. Regardless of his party and political alignment, Democrats should not hesitate to call out his shortcomings as they did with Trump and should always push Biden to do better. Politicians need to be held accountable for their promises, regardless of political faction, if they are to properly serve their constituents and make progress.