Biden won, Trump has been defeated. When CNN called the election on November 7th, many Americans finally let out a sigh of relief. It had ached in the back of their throats for days. After going on 100 hours of being glued to their TV screens, pacing back and forth in their living rooms, refreshing live updates on their phone impatiently, it was over. The Trump era had come and gone. At least for the next four years, the maniac with the bad fake tan and sexual assault accusations trailing him would no longer be controlling the most powerful western country.
Biden: little hope for progressives
The day of Biden’s win, The Onion posted a short piece titled “Jubilant Reaction To Trump Defeat Quickly Soured By News Of Biden Win.” While many liberal Democrats – and even some Republicans – contented themselves with any non-Trump running the White House, the headline captured what most younger progressives felt: disappointment. A large group of leftists still believed that the DNC had robbed Bernie Sanders of the nomination. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ records thrilled almost no one. Both are marred with a leaning towards war, violence, and a tough stance on crime. Would anything really change in the hands of a new old, white man accused of rape? Or would, aside from a few minor tweaks to Trump-era politics, everything remain the same? Would America stay spiraling in the same loops of oppressive systems?
Plans for change
Joseph R. Biden was vice president during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. He comes with experience, a strong set of connections within the Democratic party, and a good reputation amongst many communities.
His team has been announcing several of Biden’s immediate plans following the inauguration. President-elect Biden has coordinated a federal response to the pandemic, already releasing a detailed plan of how to handle it. The administration arranged to ramp us in testing capacity, invest in community-based efforts of protection and contact tracing, increase the production of PPE, and give the CDC full reign to guide the way forward. Besides this, Biden intends to rejoin WHO, the Worldwide Health Organization. Trump left it in what can only be called a tantrum.
The environment will be another focus of Biden’s presidency. Joe Biden plans on reversing executive orders made by the Trump administration that were harmful to the planet and rejoining the 2015 Paris climate agreement. His team has also promised to develop policies targeting economic inequality and will likely end Trump’s restrictions on student visas. Biden will most likely reinstate DACA and end the Muslim travel ban, as well as the restrictions on transgender military personnel.
Too little, too late
After four years of outright racism, constant instigations of violence, and more, this can seem like several major steps in the right direction. But as far as symbols of hope go, Biden and Harris offer relatively shallow solace.
Kamala Harris making VP, just a few years after America elected Barack Obama as its first Black president, gave inspiration to countless people of color in a nation built on the exploitation of their lives. However, whilst this fact is worthy of celebration, one must also consider Harris’s personal history. Kamala Harris’s career has revolved around incarcerating Black and poor bodies. She created a Truancy program, which aimed to jail parents of children who missed school. The bill gave no consideration to the socio-political context of the various situations.
Like Harris, Biden has been influential in creating laws that overwhelmingly target and incarcerate people of color. Not even a year after George Floyd’s death, followed by some of the most widespread anti-racism protests seen in history, the DNC nominating politicians with that kind of background seems questionable at best.
Both Harris and Biden are strong supporters of Israel. Harris even went so far as to pledge her unconditional support to the country. Israel is a settlement nation, built on Palestinian land. For decades, the Israeli government has been actively displacing and attacking Palestinian citizens.
Biden and Harris are not the only solution
Writing on Harris’ election, Professor Vineeta Singh says: “Kamala Harris’ career shows us how, if we use our privileges correctly, play by the rules, don’t scare white people by making radical claims (for example, that poor Black people matter every bit as much as any wealthy person); if we are willing to put our smiling “diverse” faces as stamps of approval on white supremacist policies, we too can be the face of white supremacist mass incarceration.” Her bitterness about how, when taking a step forward, it still feels like America is taking seven steps back, is echoed on leftist platforms everywhere. The feelings have only increased since the joy of seeing Trump lose has faded.
All in all, we can most likely expect four years of little change. While things probably won’t get exponentially worse, they won’t get much better either. For those who long for improvement, organizing around local politicians and supporting community-based programs still seems like the best way forward.