With Trump Gone, Biden Can Finally Rebuild

Between healthcare, climate, and democratic reform, a busy first-term is ahead of the President-Elect

Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Courtesy of Flickr by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

After four years of Donald Trump, America retains little of its erstwhile glory–standing on the wreckage of a bungled response to coronavirus, mass unemployment, an eviction crisis, broken trust in law enforcement, a sharp rise in health insurance premiums, and much more trouble to boot, Joe Biden offered a far more compelling alternative. With an all-time high turnout, Obama’s former second-in-command beat Trump with a decisive majority of the popular vote, setting the stage for America to return to the path from which it was led astray.

Hopes hang high on the former Vice-President to not only reverse much of what has addled America under Trump, but also move the ball forward on progressive reform as the base of the Democratic party is much further left than it was back in 2016–what this essentially means is more concerted action on healthcare, climate change, social and economic equity, and a slate of long-overdue democratic reforms.

Most-pressing on the agenda has to be the fate of our planet’s welfare–the more time is wasted on figuring out optimal solutions to impending ecological collapse, the harder it’ll be to tackle. “Climate politics is, now as ever, a choice between changes that seem impossible and a future that seems unthinkable,” writes Vox’s David Roberts. “Facing it squarely means radicalism. Now, a real response to climate change, a response on the scale of what the crisis demands, is on the table. It is an option. It has a name.” That name is the Green New Deal, and it is currently the golden standard for its ability to marry together the construction of industries necessary to ensure a swift transition to carbon neutrality with an emphasis on economic equalityBiden’s plan if a massive improvement over the status quo, falls awfully short of what is needed to counter the worst of what climate change has yet to offer.

Second to that — or perhaps parallel to it — is the issue of healthcare, whose current status is becoming increasingly-untenable as many Americans — especially of lower incomes — no longer have employment to cushion their medical misfortunes. Sanders was at the forefront of a push for a single-payer system under the moniker of ‘Medicare-For-All’ but the buck eventually settled on Biden’s more employer-friendly public option, which now has received harsher scrutiny as the market for employment is well… not as expansive as it used to be. It’s unclear at the moment whether Biden is willing to compromise on his moderate position to move further leftward, but if recent polling is anything to go by, the desire for a socialized healthcare system will naturally spill over into the mainstream to pick up where the Affordable Care Act left off, supplanting it perhaps with something a bit more resilient, robust, and most importantly, a lot more humane.

Biden would do well to tackle climate and healthcare with any sense of urgency, but even more pressing is the elimination of all instruments of minority rule such as voter suppression and gerrymandering, and putting an end to the influence of corporate money on American politics. Democrats have similarly expressed interest in DC and Puerto Rico statehood, but abolishing the filibuster and restoring the legitimacy of the Supreme Court are proving just as important–the order is proving tall for Biden to achieve all in one term, but if the party is to not lose against a demagogue more cunning than Trump, it needs to ready its defenses well-ahead of time.

If all this seems like Biden merely cleansing the sins of America’s past, then you wouldn’t be mistaken–much of what Obama did during his first-term was putting the country on a path to recovery from the financial crisis, which one could argue was the first seeding of Hillary Clinton’s failure to succeed him. For Biden to not fall victim to the same trap, his transition will have to be a lot more swift, a lot more focused, and less subject to the usual distractions of Capitol Hill lest he wants another backlash to put a Republican in his stead.

It won’t be easy to move forward from what great ills Trump has inflicted upon America, but if Biden sticks the landing right, he could stand on the precipice of a soaring recovery, the likes of which haven’t been seen since FDR’s New Deal. The conditions for America’s return to shape couldn’t be further different from then however–the nation’s institutions will have to be completely resculptured so that those who’ve been wronged by it, now or in the past, are given back their dues. Whether justice prevails in the wake of a Biden administration is very much up in the air, but it’s what a president-elect of great stature owes to his people if they’re to salvage anything of use from the wreckage of America’s ever-flailing promise of prosperity.