The 2020 election period in the United States was nothing less than chaotic. Hectic debates, voter intimidation, fake ballot boxes in California, the fly on Mike Pence’s head becoming a celebrity, you name it. However, the USA’s woes have not ended there. Donald Trump and his swathe of lawyers have pressed innumerable lawsuits against Biden claiming the election was rigged. With little evidence or success, the Republican Party has become the butt of many jokes as Biden aligns himself to take over the American presidency in January.
For all the criticism that Republicans have faced, the Democrats are not free from disapproval either. The slogan “Settle for Biden” shows what many of his voters think of his political agenda. If that is the case, what exactly is his stance on the issues that concern the American people?
Healthcare and Coronavirus
Biden strongly supports the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Contrary to Trump’s belief that the Affordable Care Act should be struck down and rebuilt from scratch, Biden wishes to expand upon it and to address some of its flaws. Among his key ideas, he wishes to implement a public healthcare system that would be accessible to all regardless of their access to private insurance. Concerning the worries about how taxed the middle class would be in order to support such a system, Biden has declared that he would provide tax credits to the middle class such that they would not be put at a disadvantage for public healthcare. Biden also wishes to tackle the power dynamic that exists between the people and private insurance companies, as well as big pharmaceutical corporations. He wishes to reduce insurance premiums and prescription drug prices, once again emphasizing the importance of accessibility for all.
Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the USA is struggling not only with prevention, but with treatment as well. His platform boasts increased testing infrastructure, personal protective equipment, public awareness and education about the virus, and accessible distribution of a future vaccine. One point that has drawn mixed reactions is Biden’s willingness to rejoin the international coalition within the World Health Organization (WHO) which the Democrats have described as “not perfect”. Despite the Democratic facade of international cooperation and inclusivity, they remain exceptionally skeptical of China as Biden’s website has stated that they want to “rebuild and expand the defenses that Trump has dismantled to predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China”.
The prevalence of systemic racism within the American judicial system is no secret, and the spark of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer has emphasized that even further. “Defund the Police”, “No Justice No Peace”, those were the words that protestors chanted while walking the streets and mourning the deaths of African Americans whose lives were unjustly taken away. The Democratic Party has sided with BLM, and their platform offers increased investment in education and social services in order to address the racial disparities that have been used as a justification for discriminative policing.
However, Biden has also stated that he wishes to invest $300 million in community policing by creating a new Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. When questioned about his stance on defunding the police, Biden has responded “While I do not believe federal dollars should go to police departments violating people’s rights or turning to violence as the first resort, I do not support defunding police”. This response has raised many eyebrows within the Democratic Party and has attracted much criticism towards Biden, since his stance regarding funding goes against one of the primary goals of BLM.
Immigration and Foreign Policy
Biden wishes to reverse many of the policies and regulations that Trump has established concerning immigration. Rescinding the travel ban imposed on certain Middle Eastern countries, preventing the separation of families at the USA-Mexico border, and re-establishing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are among his top priorities within the Democratic pro-immigration agenda.
Reclaiming the USA’s waning international influence following Trump’s presidency is also key for the Democrats. China’s ever-growing global leadership represents a challenge for the USA; Biden aims to counter the Chinese economic and political pressure by mending relations with partners beyond their borders. Some notable goals from Biden include withdrawing troops from Middle Eastern countries at war, namely Afghanistan and Syria. However, many are rather pessimistic about the sincerity behind this promise. Ironically, one need not look far within the Obama presidency to find innumerable examples of the USA’s excessive use of airstrikes and military force within the Middle East that further worsened their problems. Renewing peace and nuclear deals with Iran and North Korea are also on Biden’s mind, as both countries’ nuclear programs have advanced significantly over the course of Trump’s presidency.
Biden plans on pushing forward a massive climate change plan to reach net-zero emissions and 100% use of clean energy by 2050. Besides investing in environment-friendly renewable energy sources, Biden also plans on having the USA rejoin the Paris Agreement, a climate agreement established by the United Nations that the USA officially withdrew from in November 2020.
Challenges Awaiting Biden
While the Democrats were successful in winning the presidential election, they did not perform as well as expected in winning seats within the U.S Congress, formed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats are holding the majority in the House of Representatives by a slim margin, while the remaining seats in the Senate, that have yet to be given to either the Democrats or the Republicans until January, will determine which one of the two parties will hold the majority. With such a divide in Congress, it will be very difficult for Biden to pass any significant legislation, especially if the Republicans end up gaining the majority in the Senate. The Republican majority within the Supreme Court will further complicate legal proceedings on which Democrats and Republicans disagree.
As mentioned previously, tending to the USA’s international relations will also be far from easy. The American withdrawal from the international stage throughout Trump’s mandate has allowed China to increase its global influence, which Biden must now address. American affairs in the Middle East, which at first seemed promising with the new peace agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, will now become incredibly tumultuous after the recent assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh, who was the leader of Iran’s nuclear program, was at the heart of a sensitive issue that caused tension within the Middle East, and his death foreshadows the arrival of widespread political conflict that Biden will need to focus on.
Biden’s election as the 46th President of the United States may appear as the conclusion of a turbulent election and historical period for the USA. But in reality, the USA is far from being out of the woods with the future it must face.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.