In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden commemorated the one-year anniversary of his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States.
He attempted to use the conference as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of his first year. However, the occasion was overshadowed by the multitude of failures, bad news, and missed opportunities that have, lately, outnumbered those achievements.
Inflation on the rise, yet another COVID-19 surge and failures in the Senate to change filibuster rules or pass voting rights legislation are only a few of the crises Biden finds himself knee-deep in after one year in office. Not to mention the many fiascos the President has already weathered the storm through, like the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal or the failure to pass his trillion-dollar social spending bill.
It’s hard to imagine that this is the situation Biden had believed he’d be in at this point, and it definitely isn’t the one that he had sold to American voters.
Of course, we can’t solely pin all blame on the President. Many of the setbacks and failures he’s had to endure are because of what he inherited when he stepped into office.
Despite how tragic it became, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was an eventuality set into motion by poor planning by his predecessors. Ending or at least mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic would be an impossible task for any President. And many of his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate have refused to be team players — Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, perhaps chief among them.
But no matter how you choose to view the reasons for it, the truth is that President Biden has not begun to accomplish the lofty goals he set for himself.
Biden promised voters that he could be the one, not just to defeat Donald Trump, but to heal the country’s divisions and usher America into a brighter future. It’s hard to find much evidence of these promises coming to fruition. The policies the President outlined, specifically to progressive voters, including student loan forgiveness, strengthening and building upon Obamacare and a $15 minimum wage have fallen to the wayside.
These expectations may have been too lofty given the realities about partisan gridlock and the structure of our political systems, but they’re expectations Biden said he could meet.
It’s clear that Biden isn’t content with the way the first year has gone. He’s signaled in recent interviews and Wednesday’s press conferences that the game plan may have to change — he really has no other choice but to do that.
To change America and solve the problems he inherited, the strategy will have to change entirely. He may not be able to rely on Congress as he’s tried to, and he’ll have to stop betting on the bipartisanship of his Senate youth to make a sudden comeback.
He’ll have to rely on the bully pulpit of his office more. Make it clear to his colleagues in Congress that they’ll likely be out of a job soon if they don’t work together to pass his legislative agenda. Without this, the Democratic Party risks losing the Congressional majority that has allowed Biden his few legislative victories.
The 2022 Midterms are quickly approaching and the sales pitch to voters from Democrats is, frankly, quite hollow. Republicans have a case to make to their base and to independents that gets stronger with each Biden misstep and each blown opportunity in Congress. And as the prospect of a 2024 run for Trump becomes more likely, so does the prospect of the Democrats’ window of opportunity closing.
To get elected Biden and the Democrats had to tiptoe around hot-button issues to build the big tent that they did. But threading the needle and playing it safe are not helpful strategies when it comes to governing. The President needs to take decisive action if he wants to deliver voters the future he promised them, or he risks being defined as the President whose biggest moment had passed before he stepped in office.