OPINION: Do Americans really want another term with Joe Biden?


Andrew Harnik | AP Photo

President Joe Biden speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 90th Annual Winter Meeting at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

For many, a vote for Joe Biden back in 2020 was a plea for normalcy. When placed next to Donald Trump, Biden looked like a saving grace.

Cue 2022, the Biden administration continues to disappoint its constituents. Record Covid-19 numbers, the highest inflation rates since before my lifetime and strikingly low approval ratings are a few garnishes to the long list of the Biden administration’s failures.

An obvious top-of-the-list shortcoming of Biden’s first year in office is his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, establishing a better grip on the pandemic was a priority of his campaign. However, with the record high numbers of positive cases underneath Biden, Americans are questioning: What has this administration done in response to Covid-19?

Biden has encouraged people to get vaccinated from the get-go, and the administration celebrated a big win of 200 million people getting at least their first shot within Biden’s first 100 days. Still, millions of Americans remain unvaccinated, making herd immunity for the United States far from a reality. We now know that an additional booster shot is most effective in protecting against the Omicron variant, but only 35 percent of Americans have received their booster.

The rise in Covid-19 cases has left many Americans feeling unsafe. Last year, Biden announced that vaccinated people should “enjoy the holidays,” despite Omicron rearing its ugly head across the nation. Many DePaul students, including myself, can attest that Covid-19 was everywhere — even in many fully vaccinated households — over the holiday season.

The lack of accessible and affordable at-home Covid-19 testing kits only heightened the problem that Biden encouraged. Americans can now order four free at-home testing kits per household through USPS. So, my household of five is entitled to four tests. Thanks, Joe Biden.

Despite Biden’s impending promise of 500 million testing kits and the new insurance coverage for the costly test kits, I argue his response was too little, too late. Experts are saying that many places in the United States, including Chicago, have peaked. While these at-home tests are crucial for social safety going forward, they are well past overdue. Where were these when Americans needed them most?

Wayne Steger, political science professor at DePaul, argues that the economy is a dominating factor in determining whether Biden will run for reelection in 2024.

“On one hand, economic growth has exceeded expectations, unemployment is low, wage gains are strong,” Steger said. “On the other [hand], inequality continues to increase. The bigger problem, for a bigger number of voters, is inflation, which erodes standard of living for people whose incomes are not rising as fast as inflation.”

However, Steger argues it is still too early and too complicated to determine what 2024 will look like.

With the highest inflation rates the country has seen in over 30 years, Americans are conflicted: Who’s to blame? Critics of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) noted that if passed, inflation rates would rise. Their argument, as described from the Economic Policy Institute, was that the ARPA would drastically affect the fiscal impulse, causing the output gap to flip from negative to positive. Thus, sparking inflation.

This did not happen. The output gap remained negative. So, despite the administration’s bill, why has the inflation rate increased? The Economic Policy Institute places its blame on the pandemic — “Covid-19 never went away.” The administration’s failures in handling the pandemic have amounted to record high positive cases, overwhelmed hospitals and dramatic financial burdens on Americans.

Kyle Asta, president of the DePaul College Democrats, wonders, “Is [Biden] going to be able to deliver for voters?” in 2024.

Biden has yet to do that in this term. Biden promised voters on his campaign trail that he would cancel at least $10,000 in student debt per person. Here we are in January of 2022, with no progress toward debt cancellation, and Biden is avoiding questions on the subject altogether.

Biden’s recent failures in the Supreme Court further highlights his failed commitments to the American people. His vaccine mandate failed in a 7-2 vote earlier this month, except for vaccine mandates for healthcare workers at facilities that accept federal funding.

While Biden expressed his disappointment in the high court for shutting down “commonsense” and “life-saving” policies, this should not have come as a surprise. The governmental overreach in his policy was more than obvious. His efforts should go toward cooperation across the aisle, rather than proposing bills and legislation that will knowingly be killed.

Last year, Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan was not only disastrous, but also highlighted the priorities of this administration. Biden pulled out troops without a clear plan to evacuate American citizens and American allies — forcing troops to be sent back to Afghanistan. Despite the reengagement of troops in Afghanistan, not everyone was able to be evacuated. Biden left Americans in Afghanistan.

Whether or not fighting global terrorism remains an American priority, I assure that enabling terrorist organizations is not in any American’s interests. Once soldiers were out of Afghanistan, just under $10 million in weapons were left behind — ultimately, for Taliban use. Going against military officials’ advice, Biden’s frightening decision to pull out of Afghanistan leaves speculation and concern for the future of American military activity.

A creeping concern of another term with Biden is his age. If Biden were to serve another term, he would be 86 by the end of his presidency. “Biden’s age creates an enormous unknown,” Steger added.

An 86-year-old cannot accurately represent America, where a significant number of his constituents would be decades younger than him.

America should be concerned about Biden’s health. This opinion does not stem out of ageism, but rather from genuine worry. Biden is already 10 years past the average life expectancy. Anxiety around his health is not far-fetched. While his health is a private, individual matter, I argue that it is an issue bigger than him. This affects Americans and therefore should remain a factor when questioning a second term for Biden.

Asta says the biggest concern amongst the DePaul College Democrats in 2024 is Biden’s health.

“Mental health and physical health is what we’re looking at in the next two years,” he said. “If he isn’t doing well in those categories, we will look at endorsing someone else.”

The most prominent argument surrounding Biden’s age is his competency. Prejudice and ridicule over his stuttering should not be entertained; his capabilities are distinct from his word stumbles.

Biden’s public addresses have proven to not only be a bit slow, but also difficult to follow. During the Democratic debates in 2019 and 2020 he often forgot questions, went on tangents and overall didn’t always make sense. A single example from the ABC’s presidential debate, Biden was questioned on the legacy of slavery in America, yet he somehow concluded his answer by talking about record players. A competent and coherent face of America is imperative — and Biden has proven to not live up to these standards. Another four years of this would be a mistake.

The numbers don’t lie — America simply does not approve of the Biden administration. A reelection campaign would not be a guaranteed win for Democrats. Asta said that as of now, Biden is not doing a “great job amongst his party in certain issues,” but that a reelection bid is still worth considering. He cited former President Barack Obama’s presidency, as he experienced significant loss in his first midterms and came out to win a second term. Even so, Obama’s approval rating never sunk as low as Biden’s first year in office.

The 2016 election was not long ago — must we forget what happens when Democrats don’t like their nominee? Biden running for reelection would be much too risky for Democrats. Biden winning reelection would be much too risky for America.

Steger is also weary of this. “Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats, are not happy with the lack of progress on a relatively liberal agenda,” he said.

Albeit not as low as Trump’s, Biden’s approval rating after his first year in office sits at a disappointing 42 percent. Biden “beating” Trump’s approval rating is simply the bare minimum and the American people deserve better. In fact, we deserve a president we want — not a lesser of two evils.

Biden has broken his promises. As a politician, this is not uncommon. However, Biden’s first year in office is more than just broken promises. It’s more than politics. He campaigned to lead America out of one of the most horrific and tragic years in the last century. He took advantage of vulnerable voters. He saw an opportunity, and he grabbed it at the expense of America.