Biden’s first 100 days: A preview


With 40 years of experience in public service, Biden now faces the daunting task of unifying a deeply divided nation. (Library of Congress)

By Aaron Cohen, Managing Editor

When Franklin Roosevelt first took office as president in 1933, he was inheriting the worst financial crisis that the country had ever experienced. He wasted no time implementing policies that would become part of the New Deal, introducing 15 major policies in his 100 days. Thus a standard for measuring early presidential productivity was born and has since been used to judge every president’s early performance. 

Like FDR, Joe Biden is facing significant challenges as he takes office. The COVID-19 pandemic, issues of racial and economic injustice and growing political tribalism will be just some of the problems that the new administration will have to contend with. With many in this country wanting to see those problems addressed sooner rather than later, the stakes are high for Biden in his  first 100 days. 

Within hours after his inauguration, Biden signed executive orders rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, the World Health Organization, and recininding Trump’s Muslim ban. These actions signal that the Biden administration will be much different than the last, both in terms of foreign and domestic policy.

Between accusations of widespread voter fraud, several lawsuits that challenged the legitimacy of the Biden win and a deadly Capitol riot, The transition from the Trump to Biden administration has been one of the most volatile  transfers of power in recent American history. But the inauguration, even with President Trump’s absence, did happen and America avoided an unprecedented Constitutional crisis. 

In his inaugural address, Biden addressed those challenges facing our nation but struck a tone of optimism, declaring he had faith in America’s ability to unify and overcome those challenges.

“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Biden said in his address to the nation. “And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.”

Of the many groups and sections that inhabit this nation, one that will be watching these first 100 days of the Biden administration will be our nation’s youth. The Trump era saw robust political activism from the adolescent population, who organized large scale protests against climate change and for stricter gun control. At Lane, many students have engaged in protests against racism and police brutality.  

According to Sophie Stein, Div. 284, Biden should not let an inclination towards bipartisanship stop the implementation of policies that are favorable to Democrats and progressives.

“I definitely see value in bipartisanship,” Stein said. “But I also think that for four years Democrats really got thrown around and so taking some action right now is not a bad thing while Democrats have a majority.”

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden has already outlined his plans for economic relief. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion. The package includes $1,400 direct stimulus checks, as well as an additional $160 billion for a national vaccine program, including $20 billion for distribution.  

Drew Donahue, Div. 162, says this is a step in the right direction.

“I’d like to see another stimulus bill go out,” Donahue said. “Maybe not another of as great a magnitude but with more frequency. I really liked what Andrew Yang said during the primaries when he was talking about a monthly stipend.”

For Felix Jones, Div. 152, maintaining a nation that is sufficiently unified will be one of the biggest challenges facing the new Biden administration.

“[Biden] is inheriting probably the most divided United States that we’ve had in recent history,” Jones said. “I think it’s really hard to push for changes that you want to make when you know that at least half of the country’s going to be pushing back on you really hard.”

In perhaps the most divisive time period in American history, only time will tell if Biden can deliver on promises of unity and healing.