Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
Donald Trump. The name invokes a variety of feelings in many people. Regardless of what you think of him, many will agree that he was one of the most divisive and unpopular presidents in US history. There was a sigh of relief across the whole of the United States and beyond when after a long and exhausting election cycle Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected as President and Vice President of the United States. However, despite selling the dream to the eighty-one million people who voted for him, Joe Biden has been yet another disappointing President who will end his first year as the least popular President since the end of the Second World War, apart from Donald Trump (of course).
Despite an aura of optimism engulfing the American public, Joe Biden will never live down how poorly he has performed since he was sworn in on January 20. The man who was meant to signal the start of a new era of politics has failed. And yet, whilst people would say this judgement is ridiculous considering we are only nine months into his presidency, I would say it paints a grim picture for what is yet to come. Nine months in and Democrats are already concerned looking ahead at 2024.
It all starts with his demeanour. The charming Grandpa Joe who has captured the hearts of millions of Americans is an act. The reality: a foul tempered, intimidating and hard to work with man who has a tendency to tell a lie or two. Bret Stephens, an American journalist, characterises this as a man who believes he is smarter than he actually is. Considering his own Democratic predecessor chose to endorse Hillary Clinton instead of him, many have argued that Joe Biden isn’t the competent and charismatic politician we all know him to be.
And yet whilst the failures of his administration are stacking up, his downfalls as a politician and as the President all began before he was even elected. Despite serving as the Vice President for the first African American President in US history, Joe Biden, whilst in the Senate was a key person in the introduction of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law. The act itself is designed to be tough on violent crime and enhance the powers of law enforcement individuals and yet has led to the mass incarceration of African Americans across America.
This same ‘honest’ President has lied about taking part in the civil rights march in the 1960s. But as we have seen, it is clear Joe Biden gets confused sometimes, so much so he has a tendency to try and rewrite history. No wonder he found it hard to win over large portions of the African American vote in 2020, with Donald Trump increasing his share of the ‘Black vote’ compared to 2016.
Present day, Joe Biden’s problems do not seem to get any easier. His popularity has fallen more in his first nine months than any other US president since the end of the Second World War. This is hardly surprising considering the infighting that has plagued the Democratic Party since the start of his presidency, most notably regarding the $3.5 trillion spending plan he was trying to push through Congress along with the relatively meagre $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan. The domestic agenda he campaigned on and so proudly talks about is being derailed by his own party.
The gap dividing the progressives and the moderates seems to be growing and Joe Biden is trying to be the tape that holds them together. On this occasion, it doesn’t seem to be working, with the President flip flopping from side to side hoping to gain some concessions.
Rising coronavirus cases as well as a population reluctant to get vaccinated have also caused a decline in support for the President. The man who promised to ‘follow the science’ doesn’t actually seem to have a coherent strategy for fighting the pandemic. His policy relied heavily on getting people vaccinated rather than any form of measures and the administration began telling people if they were double jabbed, they could take off their masks. At a time when the delta variant was beginning to spread rapidly across the globe, this seemed like a very risky and potentially incorrect move. And it was. When the delta variant took full force in the United States, the laws regarding wearing a mask were no longer as strict as they were previously and thus the delta variant caused an exponential rise in cases within the nation. It is clear that Biden’s strong urge to move the country on from the pandemic, instead of trying to deal with it head-on, has missed the mark completely.
Globally, it doesn’t get much better for the 78-year-old President who was seen as a disgrace following the withdrawal of troops and subsequent Fall of Kabul in Afghanistan. The hasty decision to withdraw troops led to the Taliban regaining control of Kabul and Afghanistan and has been described as one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in US history. The subsequent evacuation of Kabul where scenes of terror and panic unfolded has been put entirely on the United States with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, pointing the finger at Joe Biden for the mess that ensued.
Whilst the majority of Americans supported the withdrawal of troops, the haste at which Biden decided to complete the move gave a huge advantage to the already strong Taliban who took control of Kabul within a matter of hours. Unsurprisingly, Joe Biden was the target of attacks from Americans, the press and millions of people all over the world, especially Afghanis who are now back where they started twenty years ago: under Taliban control.
Following on from the attacks, the Pentagon conducted airstrikes on what they thought were key strategic bases of ISIS, who had recently conducted two terrorist attacks in Kabul, killing many people including US army personnel. Adding to the misfortunes of Joe Biden and the apparent incompetence of his administration, these airstrikes tragically killed ten innocent people including children. The air strike was later deemed a mistake. A costly mistake which took the lives of seven innocent children, something this administration took almost a month to admit.
It is clear that Joe Biden’s current policy decisions have failed to make the real impact or change he preached for during his campaign. With growing support for Donald Trump amongst the Republican base and ongoing contempt for the current administration, Joe Biden has to tread carefully if he wants to salvage any sort of potential the Democrats have of holding on to the little power they currently wield within Congress.