Analysis Politics

The challenges President Biden faces in his first 100 days.

As the new president gets to work by signing new executive orders, Hannah Carley examines some of the obstacles in the way.

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Image Credit: Eric Haynes

Here are some of the biggest issues that President Joe Biden will face in his first 100 days in office:

The Pandemic

With Covid-19 deaths in America recently rising above 380,000, and infection rates remaining high, the current pandemic is plainly one of the biggest issues facing America. Joe Biden is due to enter the White House during the most deadly phase of the pandemic in the US, amongst a backdrop of collapsing quarantine measures in numerous states.

During his presidential campaign, Biden focused heavily on his intentions to improve the coronavirus response, work with state governors to impose national mask mandates, enhance the track and trace system and restore relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, Biden’s plans will be challenged by a significant portion of citizens who are actively acting against current coronavirus restrictions, and the conspiracy theories and disinformation already rampant within many communities. The president will need to rally the country around a response that many have criticised his predecessor for downplaying and mishandling.

Though vaccines provide a pathway back to normal life, it will be many months before all Americans can realistically expect to receive it - and saving lives in the meantime is as challenging an endeavour as a national immunisation programme. Any missteps on either of these matters could tarnish Biden’s presidency before it has even really begun.

Uniting America

On the campaign trail Biden pledged to restore ‘the soul of the nation’, but this will be no easy task.

In recent years American politics has become increasingly polarised, with populist movements, social media and cultural changes all helping to increase tensions. Donald Trump’s appearance on the political scene has only stoked this fire; culminating in the thrown out claims of election fraud and the shocking events in the Capitol we have seen in recent weeks.

Biden’s centrist image and long record will help him as he tries to unite the country, but overcoming the tensions pushing America towards these extremes will be challenging at best. The ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump will continue to aggravate his base and likely make this task an even more testing undertaking.

Managing Congress

The recent senate runoff elections In Georgia produced a good result for the president, but his new de-facto majority in the senate (due to Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the 50-50 deadlock,) is too close for comfort. To be certain that his policies will be able to pass through both houses Biden will need to work across party lines, but again this will not be easy.

It is unlikely that many Republicans will be willing to work with Biden, particularly when Mitch McConell’s harsh criticism of former President Obama is taken into account. Though McConell paid a political price for many of the moves he made against the previous Democrat administration, it will not be surprising if he moves against Biden in a similar manner.

With a long standing senate career and an ability to reach across partisan lines showcased during his time as vice president, Biden appears to have the ability to manage the House. However he will need to manage criticism not just from the Republicans but also from members of his own party if his ambitious campaign pledges are to become a reality.

Defining his Presidency

Throughout Biden’s presidential campaign he was branded as the ‘Anti -Trump’ candidate. Biden was seen by many as a steadfast career politician moderate enough to unite Democrats and centrist Republicans - a ‘vehicle’ to oust Trump from office. This proved fruitful for the Democrats, defeating Trump by a sizeable margin of 4 percentage points.

However this still leaves the question of what a Joe Biden presidency actually means for America aside from repairing national morale. What is the big idea or policy area that will animate this government through it’s first 100 days? There are many policies that could potentially define this new era in American politics, but what a Biden presidency means in the next few months - and years - we will only find out in good time.

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