Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. has begun his term as the 46th President of the United States.
81 million people, myself included, cast ballots for him in the fall of 2020. Over 155 million people voted in total, bringing turnout rates to their highest levels in well over half-a-century.
Between the two options presented to the electorate, Mr. Biden seemed to be the necessary choice, if one had to be made at all. I could and likely will dedicate another essay to the undue onus placed on Black people, particularly Black women, to ‘save our democracy’ at the polls.
He selected a running mate who energized the race and brought an impressive set of history-making credentials with her; Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian person to assume the vice presidency. This achievement marks another milestone on a career of firsts for Vice President Harris – first Black woman DA of San Francisco, first Black woman Attorney General of California, first Black woman U.S. Senator from California.
Moreover, Mr. Biden ran against an unapologetically racist, self-enriching, aspiring dictator. After an exhausting five years, including his hateful, fear-mongering campaign for the presidency, Mr. Biden’s immediate predecessor departed from the White House in utter shame as the first president to be impeached twice and with virulent notes of white supremacy flowing from his mouth until the very end of his tenure.
However, the legacy of Mr. Biden’s predecessor endures through his imprint on the federal judiciary and the flames of white resentment that he stoked with renewed fervor and that still burn with great intensity.
Again, since Mr. Biden is now the president, he possesses the power to start addressing centuries of harm that have fallen upon the backs of Black and Brown people. Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has been consistent. He unequivocally supports the brutal economic system of racial capitalism, the U.S. imperialist war machine through its military, and the rugged individualism required to achieve the ‘American dream.’ Like many old men, he abused his power and was credibly accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, a former staffer; this troubling accusation was largely swept under the rug during the 2020 campaign because Mr. Biden’s opponent had more.
Even during a global health crisis that has claimed over 400,000 lives in the United States alone – and a reckoning with racist police violence that led to the largest social movement in American history last summer – Mr. Biden opposes universal healthcare, the cancellation of all student loan debt, and reducing funding to police departments across the country.
As has been the case for the past 50 years, the prison industrial complex grows in intensity as millions of people languish in cages. Mr. Biden championed the 1994 Crime Bill, freeing up millions of dollars to flow to police departments and prisons across the country. He claimed in his victory speech on November 7, 2020 that Black Americans had his back during the general election, so now he has ours; During his inaugural address yesterday, he declared that we can deliver racial justice. Yet, he now offers no remarks on reparations, continues his unyielding support for policing, and has already begun to back track on the $2,000 stimulus relief he promised while campaigning.
$2,000 turned into $1,400, which turned into more calls for unity with white supremacists who attacked the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago under the direction of Mr. Biden’s predecessor. There are no signs that Mr. Biden will soon abandon his allegiance to corporations, the U.S. military, police departments, and prisons – death-making institutions that they all are. All the while, millions of people are suffering in this nation, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Brown, as folks struggle to pay rent, settle bills, and care for their families.
Looming over everything, imperialism and capitalism have driven the world to the brink of ecological collapse, with the window narrowly closing on the time to execute the drastic action that is needed to mitigate the suffering of billions of people
So here we are. The world quite literally cannot take the strains that this empire has placed upon it. A diverse cabinet and the placement of phrases such as COVID-19, Racial Equity, and Climate as priority areas on the White House website do not change the fact that there aren’t proposals for recurring monthly stimulus checks and even a mere recognition that the U.S. military is one of the largest drivers of climate change in this moment.
Despite it all, Mr. Biden still has an opportunity to turn away from the incremental neoliberalism that has defined his career. He can enact meaningful policies in coordination with the 117th Congress, led by Democrats. Mr. Biden can push for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, steady stimulus payments retroactive to the coronavirus pandemic’s arrival on American shores, widespread student loan debt cancellation, reparations for Black Americans, a return of broad swaths of land to Indigenous peoples, and a severe reduction of funding to the military & police departments – in favor of social services that have been deprived of those critical funds for decades.
We don’t have much time left. People are dying and suffering daily. The world is bending to its breaking point under our pressure.
How will Mr. Biden meet this moment? How will we as we strive to push him to necessary action?