I, like countless students, felt resigned and uninspired at the notion of voting for Joe Biden. Name a reason–I had them all, even though I was hopeful for him in the beginning.
But as I was scrolling through social media the last night of the DNC, something in the notifications from my obscene number of News apps made me think, “I should really watch Biden’s acceptance speech.”
So I did, and I was wowed.
What I was looking for was enough sincerity and honesty to signal that I was listening to a person I can hold accountable, which I felt like I was getting from nobody.
The angry Uncle Joe, the George W. Bush 2.0, and the alleged creep–even rapist–turned into the nominee I wanted Biden to be in the beginning. That doesn’t mean he is who he says he is, but I am now resigned to a different conclusion: I am a Biden fan now.
But I’m also a fan of the Bulls, and that doesn’t mean I’m exactly thrilled with them right now. And that doesn’t mean I won’t cheer for other teams or stop being a Bulls fan if it comes out that the players are despicable human beings.
But wasn’t that speech awesome? Didn’t you feel like he was talking to you, right through the screen, and that he meant what he was saying? Didn’t it seem like he could deliver on his promises?
We need to put our support in Biden because we need a president we can hold accountable. We need a president who we can ask, “When are you going to deliver on this promise?” and expect to be heard and understood.
Keeping this in mind: this isn’t much to ask.
To quote David A. Graham from “The Atlantic,” who I think said it best, “Biden may also benefit from low expectations.”
So, what did we expect from our president before? We expected to know how they would do things and–if they didn’t fulfill their promises–at least not promise the opposite the next day.
Let’s look at his speech the way we used to when the country wasn’t in shambles.
Biden promised within the first two minutes of his speech to implement universal, free COVID-19 testing with “results available immediately.”
I want to believe he can do that. He also said in the same breath that he would “take the muzzle off the experts” and that “no miracle is coming.” He at least understands how viruses work: that we need to know where they are in order to handle the situation.
The testing he proposed would take a lot of money. He also just said that the testing will be available.
Now we need to look at the American people: if so many people can’t wear a mask, do you think that Joe Biden will be able to convince them to have a swab shoved up their nose? For free?
The testing he proposes would require swift, strong and disciplined federal leadership.
The Biden I saw at the DNC could do it. Can the Biden who walks into the Oval Office do it, too?
His COVID-19 plan, which he says he has been forming since March (which I’m guessing is what he was doing while Bernie Sanders ads flooded social media and everyone was asking, “Where’s Biden?”), also includes emergency financial assistance to those who fall ill, increased medical supply availability, and increased funding for vaccine development.
This, I have a little more faith in. He has seen Barack Obama handle crises before. He knows how to deploy aid.
We can see that a president can do a lot with Executive Orders, which he could enact to swiftly cover most of his COVID-19 promise.
But what about Congress? The Senate is still majority-Republican.
Promising to change the tax code to tax the obscenely wealthy has been promised before. Can he do it?
Equal pay for women has been promised before (many, many times). Can he do it?
I have a hard time believing that he can. No one knows what the future holds at this point. I think he wants to, but he is also a career politician with favors tied back to countless people on both sides of the aisle. He might not be able to.
It seems like he is strongest when he is promising to tackle the crisis.
That’s when being a career politician is his saving grace. We all know that he knows who the experts are–perhaps even more than Barack Obama did since he has been in the game since before Obama was a teenager. Even if he doesn’t put the perfect person in-charge, we know he is less likely to put a dangerously incompetent person in charge of one of his cabinets (Betsy DeVos, I’m looking right at you).
Biden won’t do that because he can’t. His conscience won’t let him. That was clear as day in his speech.
Biden made it clear that he admires Franklin D. Roosevelt in his speech in several ways. He referenced the New Deal, his “jobs and community” mission echoes FDR’s, and his entire speech was even much like the Fireside Chats.
One of the reasons many think FDR was a good president was because he had to overcome polio. Overcoming adversity gives people strength and helps them relate to others that have struggled, too. Biden made it clear that he had to overcome loss and grief, and Americans need someone to not look down on their grief and call it weakness.
I am hopeful for Biden, but not because I think he has the answers and solutions. I think we have the answers and power to change our own country. Biden is just someone who will not put up roadblocks and–with luck–he will make our fight easier rather than harder.