Reflection on a year of Biden’s policies


Lillian Hoover

While Biden’s entire first year cannot be considered a massive success, we must remember to look at how long it has taken our country to end up in this position, and how the pandemic has unexpectedly changed all of our lives.

Lillian Hoover, Staff Writer

Following in the wake of Former President Donald Trump’s presidency and the January 6th insurrection, President Joe Biden’s inauguration could have been considered a breath of fresh air. However, the legislative branch that he must work with remains a sharply divided Congress, reflecting the overall polarization of the country itself. President Biden’s first year of presidency should also be viewed through this lens, that of a divided Congress and divided country. There are several areas to evaluate when considering Biden’s first year in office including foreign relations and policy, immigration, pandemic response and voting rights.

I would say that this new presidency has been a mix of satisfaction and destruction, not only across the US but also around the world. While he has kept many of the promises he made at the beginning of his presidency, this doesn’t mean Biden hasn’t created any problems or fixed all of our current ones.

Upon entering office, President Biden pledged to re-engage the US as a leader within the global community, while also responding appropriately to acts by China and Russia. In the case of Russia, the world will be paying attention to its actions with respect to Ukraine. He also vowed to put an end to the war in Afghanistan and began talks again with Iran in hopes of limiting the country’s nuclear advancements.

Soon after entering office, Biden did act to rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization and reset the US relationship with the United Nations. While symbolic, they were critical first steps to repair relationships with other countries and allies. Unfortunately, the administration and military advisors completely underestimated how quickly the Taliban would seize control of the country from the fragile US-backed Afghan government. While 124,000 Afghans were brought to safety, thousands more who were loyal to the US remain trapped in the country. 

One of the first problems staring President Biden in the face upon entering office was the COVID-19 pandemic. If one is to measure his success based on approval ratings for his first year, they have been in steady decline. Though, I would argue President Biden’s lack of success is due to factors outside of his control, not to his lack of trying.

Recently, the US Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s OSHA business vaccine mandate. This was seen as a huge blow to enforcing COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, as it would have effectively required millions of US workers to get vaccinated. Biden also faces vaccine hesitancy and new COVID-19 variants reducing the effectiveness of existing vaccines, also factors outside of his control.

However, within Biden’s control is the public health messaging surrounding COVID-19, and the availability of testing kits and materials. Biden’s messaging has been criticized for faulting those who have not received the vaccine, creating an “us-versus-them” dynamic in the world of public health. To combat the issue of test availability, the Biden administration is purchasing 1 billion rapid tests to give to Americans for free. The first half-billion tests were available to ordered beginning January 19.

Regarding immigration policy, the Biden administration has tapped Vice President Kamala Harris to take the lead. The administration has had to deal with a record surge in border crossings, while also being pressured to take a more humane immigration policy approach than the previous administration. Biden’s continued application of the Title 42 health rule has sent many migrants and asylum seekers home. In addition, the Biden administration was forced to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy by a federal court. It is the hope of the administration to work with Latin American countries to identify and solve the underlying causes of the migration, notably from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it will be working with the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation to do just that.

Biden’s presidency has been far from perfect however. I would argue that the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has been the greatest mistake thus far. In addition, we’ve been faced with tremendous inflation and labor shortages, in part fueled by $1.9 trillion in government spending. Still, we face shortages of vaccine test kits and high quality masks. Finally, despite climate change being a high priority, he pushed for Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, while stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, helping Russia and harming the US and Canada.

While Biden’s entire first year cannot be considered a massive success, we must remember to look at how long it has taken our country to end up in this position, and how the pandemic has unexpectedly changed all of our lives. We did not end up in this position overnight, and I just hope that Biden’s four-year term continues to progress and push forward to face these important issues facing our country.