Biden-Harris Presidency Have Many Tasks Ahead of Them

Many tasks include repairing the damage caused by the Trump Administration, especially from the global pandemic period

Image from TechCrunch

On Saturday, 7th November 2020, the Associated Press projected Joe Biden to become the 46th President of the United States of America, which would mean that Kamala Harris would be the first black female Vice President in US history. We have yet to hear whether Donald Trump will concede to Biden.

In light of this election result, it is clear that the USA is a deeply divided society where there is a clear ideological and polarised difference between urban and rural communities. The new administration, under the Biden-Harris leadership has a lot of work to do in uniting Americans and resolving prevalent issues caused by Trump and/or pre-existing challenges.

Since progressive leaders such as Stacey Abrams, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar played formidable roles in gaining traction and support for the Democratic Party candidate, it would only be logical for Biden to include progressive, left leaning individuals in his administration. It has been noted that Biden, in his acceptance speech, mentioned the diverse support he received from all political groups, which, perhaps, may indicate a “concoction” of ideologies in the new administration.

This can be interpreted as a compromise that Biden would need to apply, and it is something that may be needed for his presidency given the abysmal Senate election results where conservative Republicans are retaining most of their Senate seats. However, there are some “hung elections”, particularly in close-to-call states such as Georgia. Nevertheless, the tight margins between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Congress would mean Biden has a task ahead of him to appease and negotiate with people of differing views.

COVID Pandemic

The big elephant in the American room is the COVID-19 pandemic which is rife throughout the USA. Trump is to blame for the failures in decreasing the infection rates in the USA due to his consistent denialism of the virus, as well as downplaying the information provided by scientists and medical professionals such as Dr Fauci. As a result of the denialism, there were many instances where Americans “inspired” by Trump refused to wear masks or socially distance, a selfish act which placed people around them at risk.

Biden has already expressed his initiative to curb the coronavirus by detailing in his acceptance speech that from Monday, 9 November 2020, he will introduce a COVID-19 task force that will be led by a group of scientists. Biden has prioritised restoring faith in science again after 4 years of a President who denied science in order to pursue his own agenda. It is important to highlight that Biden-Harris supporters have been wearing masks, unlike Trump supporters. In addition to this, Biden has promised to increase access to healthcare for the American people.

Racial injustice

For the last 4 years, there have been increased cases of violence and atrocities in the USA, specifically regarding police brutality, domestic terrorism and white supremacist activities. 2020 has unfortunately been no different with the brutal, violent act of police senselessly murdering George Floyd on camera, and the subsequent violent suppression of peaceful protests. There is clear proof that racism is social pandemic in the USA and much needs to be done to eradicate its ugly head in systems, structures and ideologies.

Trump has been a huge barrier in the way of achieving racial harmony, black empowerment, and racial equality overall. In a presidential debate this year, Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, which sent a clear message of affirmation to right wing groups. He has notably had a long history of racial suppression and discrimination, and since his election, white supremacy has risen to the forefront of American politics.

Biden has improved after initially having a convoluted, unclear past of addressing racial injustice and equality. In his policy document, Biden promises to tackle racial inequality by focusing on equity and empowerment. This would include support mechanisms for small, black-owned businesses and a boost of support for access to homeownership for the black community.

Furthermore, the violence and police brutality against black people is something that needs to be addressed, and the next President cannot be silent on the issue. Whilst left wing movements have called for police dismantlement, Biden takes a more centre-liberal stance by acknowledging the faults of the criminal justice system in America, and emphasising the necessity to improve accountability mechanisms when it comes to police brutality. This has been disputed as a “regrettably safe” route to take.

Trans Rights

Despite the Trump campaign’s insistence that Trump has been pro-LGBTQ+, the facts provide a completely different story. Trump has had a grossly disdainful approach to the treatment of trans people. In fact, the Trump Administration went to the extent of erasing gender identity as a valid form of discrimination in medical care, meaning that trans people could not seek legal aid in the event that they are discriminated against. Moreover, there have been several decisions made by Trump which sought to remove civil rights for trans people, and this includes: banning trans people from the military and excluding trans identities from UN documents.

The LGBTQ+ community, particularly queer people of colour, have been at the forefront of opposing Trump policies. Biden has acknowledged the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and has vowed to pass the new Equality Act, which provides the LGBTQ+ community with protection from discrimination in the workplace. Biden has been pro-LGBTQ+ since the Obama administration, with him being part of the efforts to pass same sex marriages. There will need to be more effort from the White House in providing protection and support for the trans community.

Harris has been applauded for her initiative in opposing homophobic legal acts and proposals made in California. However, there has been concern over a decision she made in 2015, which was violently transphobic towards two trans prisoners. It was later revealed that she did work towards resolving the matter by assisting with the trans prisoners’ gender reassignment surgeries.

Climate Change

Trump may have been the worst thing for America in terms of climate change. In 2015, Trump had described climate change as a “hoax” and intended to support the building of more factories in the USA, which would contribute to the global warming. Trump’s administration took the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and subsequently began implementing policies that have caused environmental degradation. There has also been a notable rivalry between Trump and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has received malicious attacks from the outgoing US President.

For climate activists, Biden’s election is a positive sign in their books, for he has already announced his plan to rejoin the Paris climate agreement after expressing his support for science and the inevitable consequences of climate change. Unlike Trump, Biden has a detailed manifesto for tackling climate change and environmental justice. Biden promises to set goals for removing fossil fuels from the energy industry by 2035, curbing the causes of forest fires and supporting the progressive “Green New Deal”. Perhaps the biggest challenge he’ll face is the conservative cabal of Republicans in the Senate.

Immigration and Xenophobia

Under Donald Trump, approval of refugees and immigrants into the US has dropped by staggering figures. The Trump administration has made it exceptionally harder for immigrants and foreign visitors to be in the country without documentation. There have been dehumanising acts caused by the Trump Administration which include deeply Islamophobic and xenophobic decisions such as the call to ban people from “Muslim countries” for visiting the USA, to the horrific separation and treatment of foreign children at the US-Mexico border. Academics and UN members have described these acts as an “ill disregard of human rights”.

In a piece this morning, Forbes stated that Biden’s Immigration Policy provides “a new hope” for immigrants. Biden has plans to stop the construction of the infamous “wall” between Mexico and the USA. The Biden campaign has also emphasised that it wants a clearly communicated roadmap for immigrants who want to become citizens of the United States. In his policy, Biden wants the USA to become a safe hub for refugees where he’ll be removing the barriers placed by Trump, and allow refugees to come into the country when seeking asylum from warfare.

Palestine Conflict

A massive issue of contention is the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine which is one that has caused much violence and polarisation worldwide. Whether you are pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, the issue of human rights and human dignity are crucial, and denying a community of their rights showcases your human decency too. Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, Palestinians lost aid from the US and UN, and an increase of hostility occurred by Jewish and Muslim communities.

There are very few figures in US politics who have expressed their support for the Palestinians. Democrat congress members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have openly condemned Israel’s violation of human rights and international law. But where does that leave Joe Biden and his presidency? Although Trump’s defeat is a celebration for the Palestinians, they are not expecting a massive change of treatment from the Biden government. Biden and Harris are both pro-Israel but they’ve been argued to be less harmful than the previous administration. Biden has said that he opposes the dehumanising decisions made by the Israeli government and he does not intend to open relations again with the Palestinian people.

Gun Reforms

The deplorable record of mass shootings in the USA cannot be ignored, and the issue of gun reforms has to be addressed by the new administration. Once upon a time, Donald Trump claimed he had plans to impose stricter gun laws following mass shootings during his tenure. However, that has never materialised. Trump has made wild, illogical claims about the importance of having firearms, including blaming the victim of a mass shooting for not having a gun to fire back. It should be obvious that Trump’s endorsement by the National Rifle Association would not have made sense for him to impose gun reforms.

However, the Biden campaign, with the important push of young leaders from March For Our Lives, aims to challenge the NRA’s staunch control of protecting guns over people’s lives. Biden is known for tackling the NRA with gun reform laws, and as President, he hopes to introduce universal background checks, ban assault weapons and allow for guns to be confiscated from people who may no longer have the capacity to use them. Biden believes there are holes in current laws which need to be resolved, and he argues for a limitation of sales of guns to one owner, as well as banning people from buying guns if they have a criminal record for hate crime.

The USA may be on its way out of a post-truth, polarised society with hateful divisions on the basis of identity. However, this will take much effort from the new leadership at the White House, as well as grassroots movements and policy changes. Nevertheless, many countries and individuals around the world are breathing a sigh of relief following Trump’s failure to be re-elected.

Luke Waltham is a BA Law Graduate. He is a BA Honours student and has been an activist for transformation, social justice and human rights. #BTSARMY