American Presidential elections have always attracted worldwide attention due to their global hegemony. However, the 2020 elections have gained immense importance than usual due to some peculiar circumstances and Trumpism. The evolving debate around this election has both international and domestic connotations. The era of Trump has furthered political polarization at home and perturbed American international standing. The arrival of coronavirus has further complicated the debates and issues revolving around the elections. The elections of 2020 are one of the most controversial in American history because Trump echoed reservation before elections and prevailing racial tensions. Nevertheless, amidst this furor, elections were held on 3 November. The democratic candidate Joe Biden emerged as a victorious candidate. As expected, Trump raised certain reservations by hurling accusations of fraud and electoral misconduct. Yet, Biden emerged victoriously. In this highly polarized environment, the first hundred days of the Biden administration were highly critical. In the first hundred days, the administration of Biden has taken a gamut of measures to address the challenges. This policy ranges both in the domestic and the international arena. for instance, at the domestic level, it has issued orders to expand the access of the treatment for covid programs. Similarly, it has taken measures to curb the rising racial tensions which have encouraged violence (www. federal register.gov). In this context, Biden has given posts to people from races to give a strong message. Kamala Harris, Cecilia Rouse, and Katherine Tai are examples that give a strong gesture (Sullivan, Kate). In addition to this domestic era, the novel administration has taken important steps in the realm of foreign relations to substitute unilateralism and isolationism with multilateralism and internationalism.
The two policy areas that will be discussed are: foreign relations and racial issues in the domestic arena. These both areas are the most important for America. The realm of foreign policy is important because as a global hegemon and champion of the rule-based international order, it is highly important for America to lead the world and to maintain its hegemony. the latter is important because the rise of right-wing terrorism and nationalism has heightened racial tensions in the country. This can be seen in the rise of mass killing and increasing hate crimes against minority people. no doubt that Trump has lost, he has been able to gain 70 million votes which show that there is the toxic notion of white supremacy is gaining ground which has torn the social fabric of the country. The former will be supported while arguments will be provided against the second policy of racial tensions as it is not enough to tackle the growing racial tensions in the country.
The policy measures taken by the Biden administration at the foreign level should be supported. The new Biden administration is facing many issues in the arena of foreign policy. Apart from domestic issues, the issues at the global level were also a considerable cause of concern for analysts and voters. The unilateralism pursued by Trump during the last four years has eroded American global standing. The persistent ridiculing of allies has also estranged relations with core allies of America. Many want to see America reclaim its international standing and adopt a policy of Internationalism rather than Isolationism. In this particular regard, the elections were key as most want to see America upholding the rules of liberal world order. Trump was expected to harden its approach while for Biden it was argued that he will likely improve America’s image abroad (Viser, Matt,).
In this instance, Biden has taken many steps. Firstly, Biden has taken many steps to pursue the policy of internationalism and multilateralism. This is the right action as it will reintegrate America into the world. This will rebuild relations with allies who have been alienated by Trump's unilateralist policies. Similarly, it will restore the global hegemony that has also been tainted by the isolationist policies of trump.
To take a specific policy, climate change is the obvious arena where Biden has taken assertive action. The most existential crisis confronting the whole world is climate change. Trump has pulled America out of the Paris accord. To confront this crisis, America's leading role is essential. To lead the world in fighting against climate change, Biden has pledged to rejoin the Paris accord. The issue at a foreign level is highly important because it requires the collaboration of the nations. In this scenario, America’s role to fight this existential threat is highly important. As the opinion in the Washington Post said,” Biden has also said that he would attempt to persuade other nations to adopt higher standards in an attempt to curb the impacts of climate change (www.whitehouse.gov). According to IPCC, industrial progress has raised the proportion of carbon dioxide to 414 parts per million from 218 parts per million in the last 150 years. For this purpose, it has introduced an executive order that pledges to tackle climate change at home and abroad. The step is in consideration with the broader policy of internationalism and multilateralism.
Another specific step at the foreign level is that Biden resolves to have a lenient approach to immigration. The four years of Trump have sowed chaos and hatred against immigrants. To Make America Great Again, Trump has introduced policies that have restricted immigration. For instance, Trump has banned five Muslim countries besides pledging to build the Mexico wall. Moreover, Trump has introduced strict immigrant policies, separating children from families. Such measures have undermined the American notions of liberalism, multiculturalism, and equality. The new Biden administration has pledged to reverse these anti-immigrant policies.
Biden has pledged to reunite separated children with their families. Further changes in the foreign policy related to immigration include the termination of bans on Muslim countries. Moreover, the administration will also look to facilitate immigrants who are vulnerable to rising xenophobia. The new president has mentioned his role in managing the migration during the immigrant wave of 2014. Biden is also keen to enforce strict border control rather than building a wall along with the Mexico border. Moreover, he also argued that dreamers should be forthwith given citizenship and rights. The president has also vowed to curb illegal immigration (OSBORN). What do these measures or pledges signal about foreign policy related to Trump? The executive order issue revealed that the new administration will be eager to adopt a lenient approach towards immigrants. As most of the immigrants come from undeveloped and Latin American countries, the objective of this mild immigrant foreign policy is to convey a message that America wants to end the isolationist policy of the Trump era. Besides this, the policy signaled that America believes in the notion of cooperation with other nations. Through these changes in foreign policy pertaining to immigration, America wanted to signal that America is still a safe place for immigrants, and notions of equality and liberty are still prioritized. The discrimination against immigrants has hurt American global stature. Through these new policies, Biden also wanted to restore American declining global stature. Besides this, the new immigration policies will also help to rebuild relations with Muslim nations that were undermined by the Trump embargo (Hesson, Holland).
The soft approach towards immigration does not mean the new administration would provide full leeway to immigrants. As Biden has mentioned he will impose a strict border which implies that illegal immigration should be curbed and regularized. No doubt that Biden has taken apt steps in the realm of foreign relations, but it has been unable to effectively introduce policies at the domestic level to tackle the rising ethnic and racial tensions. In this regard, the novel administration has issued an order that prioritized racial equality. The order directs the department of housing and urban development to take steps to end racial inequality in accessing housing facilities. Similarly, it instructs the department of justice to take steps to fight discrimination against minorities that has undergone an increase since the onslaught of the pandemic (Shabad and Egan).
The criticism leveled against this policy is not that racial inequality should not be addressed or it is not a problem of high importance to be handled forthwith. The criticism that is leveled against this policy should be taken in a broader sense. It is criticized due to its limitations and ineffectiveness to tackle the problem as a whole. Can this policy end racism? Is it enough to tackle the systematic and institutional racial inequality extended toward the people of immigrant communities? Does the policy have the necessary scope to introduce widespread changes in society that can lead to racial equality? Given the resurgence of the obnoxious ultra-right terrorism, does the policy enjoys enough scope to tackle this brewing intolerance? Does the policy have the ability to tackle the root causes of racial inequality? It can be seen that the appraisal of policy gave rise to a host of questions.
The point is that it fails to tackle the root causes that perpetuate racial inequality. For example, one of the major factors in the last decade or so that have created problems for African Americans is the great economic recession of 2008. The recession engendered attitudes that have further complicated the situation for people of color. After the great recession, as the American economy saw a slowdown, the obvious victims were Black people. As are they already in a precarious situation, this further worsened the situation. The unemployment rate crossed 16 percent. In the border sense, it generated attitudes and behaviors that have contributed to the racism prevailing in America. Furthermore, The widespread presence of the notion of racial supremacy of whites or white supremacy in America shows that racial imbalance is available in America. The hypothesis of racial domination upholds the conviction that the White race is better than different races and has a natural right to govern America. Besides, it is additionally contended that America is a country for individuals having a place with the white race. Additionally, the conservative patriot has been occupied with mass killings and focused on shootings. For instance, the assaults by a long shot right in North America and Western Europe have expanded by 320%. The purpose for these assaults was inalienable bigotry and xenophobic thoughts that support the structure of racial oppression. These factors reveal that to solve racial inequality, there is a need for a multi-pronged strategy rather than an isolated strategy tackling one aspect or another. There is a need for comprehensive policy measures that can address the root causes perpetuating this process of racial inequality. In this context, as the current policy pursued by Biden does not include inclusiveness and comprehensiveness, so, it should be condemned. The condemnation should be in such a way that it forces the administration to take holistic measures. The current policy may spur cosmetic changes but it will not be able to address the brewing racial intolerance that is set to sow chaos and violence.
After appraising the first hundred days of the Biden administration, the question that arises is whether the administration is successful or not? It is too early to take such a position. Yet, the direction that has been taken by the new government can give a signal whether it will be successful or not. If analyzed with respect to the Trump era which has bitterly affected the American domestic and international landscape, it can be said that the incumbent government is successful and pursuing the right policies. Here, the administration has taken immediate steps to curb the impact of the coronavirus. Similarly, it has taken a host of measures to address domestic challenges such as health care and brewing intolerance. Yet, the most important success of the new administration was in the arena of foreign policy. In this arena, the incumbent government has been able to mend ties with its traditional allies, restore the global hegemon of America, and curb the rise of China that is set to challenge the supremacy of the US. Moreover, it has given a strong message to all the nations that American hegemony is here to stay and that it is committed to protecting the rule-based order built after world war two.
The Biden administration has been successful so far owing to the fact that the challenges it faces were enormous and strong political will. The polarization sowed during the trump era has created multiple crises in America. Until now, the novel dispensation has shown the strength and resolve to withstand those challenges and protect American interest. Yet, in some areas, especially the problem of growing racial intolerance and inequality demands urgent and comprehensive steps. Still, in the broader sense, the Biden government has been successful so far.References:
- Sullivan, Kate. “Here are the historic firsts in Biden's administration.” December 2020
- “2021 Joe Biden Executive Orders.”
- Viser, Matt, et al. “Biden plans immediate flurry of executive orders to reverse Trump policies.” November 2020
- “MENU TO SEARCH THIS SITE, ENTER A SEARCH TERM BRIEFING ROOM FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government.”
- OSBORN, C. Biden’s First Steps on Latin America.
- Hesson, T., & Holland, S. H. Biden moves to reverse Trump immigration policies, too slowly for some.
- Shabad, Rebecca, and Lauren Egan. “Biden signs executive actions on racial equity.” January 2021