Joe Biden Won. Now What?

This past week, we saw the cogs of American democracy churn out a new President-elect, former Vice President Joe Biden. He and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, ran on the platform of uniting the country after America survived living for four years under a divisive presidential administration. A certain kind of joy spread across America on Saturday, Nov. 7, when every major media outlet projected his victory over the incumbent, President Trump. But now that we have a (nearly) certified President-elect, what’s next for our country?

Let me start off by saying that I myself cast a vote for the Biden/Harris ticket. In my mind, America has lost its sense of decency under President Trump and has socially regressed 20 years, if not more. That’s not to say, however, that I have a lot of faith in a Biden administration to recover all that we have lost since 2017, when Trump first took office.

The President-elect has proclaimed that his cabinet will “look like America.” But what does that mean? Will it be a racially diverse Cabinet full of qualified candidates? Will it consist of 50 percent men, 50 percent women? Or will it be half-staffed by Republicans, and half-staffed by Democrats? I fear that this last question might reflect the future truth.

Joe Biden is, by definition, a career politician. He served as a U.S. Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009. From 2009 to 2017, he served as the Vice President of the United States. Now, at the age of 77, he will serve as the President of the United States for the next four years. For some perspective, President Obama (2009-2017) is now only 59 years old. Presidents Clinton (1993-2001) and Bush (2001-2009) are both 74 years old. The only living President older than Joe Biden is Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), who is a ripe 96 years old. 

I suppose the question I should be posing is this: why do we keep picking Presidents from the Old Guard? For his entire professional career, politics is all that Biden has known. He has lived through several social revolutions, and his record reflects that. While a Senator, he voted in favor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. He was a champion of the 1994 Crime Bill, which helped the United States become the world’s foremost jailor. As of 2020, we have over 2.2 million people locked away in prison, which is more than even the authoritarian countries of China and Russia.

Perhaps we choose to elect these people because, for our entire lives, they’ve been the ones in power. But this is to our detriment. Establishment Democrats feed on corporate donors. They care little for their constituents. These elites almost never reflect America as it truly is. Most Americans don’t attend Ivy League schools. Most Americans don’t even graduate from college. Most Americans don’t grow up in comfortable, stable, suburban households. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

I’m writing this because, while I’m excited at the prospect of finally getting rid of President Trump, I’m still worried about what the future might hold. There is so much potential for a Biden administration to do good by the American people. Washington, D.C. could finally be admitted as a state (pending the upcoming Senate elections in Georgia), finally providing representation to 700,000 bona-fide Americans. The Affordable Care Act could be expanded to provide Medicare-for-All, ultimately doing away with pricey private health insurance, which is oftentimes dependent on having a good-paying job. The federal minimum wage could be raised from $7.25 to at least $15 an hour. The passage of a comprehensive Green New Deal could provide new jobs to millions of Americans while positively transforming American society as a whole.

But this is all dependent on both Joe Biden and the American people being comfortable with change. People struggle to understand why Donald Trump was elected, and why he was able to build a cult following during his four years in office. It’s because Republican voters were tired of the same old people representing them in Washington, and Donald Trump was certainly not a regular politician. While President Trump saw this opportunity and further cemented the legality of playing dirty politics within government, Democrats have the opportunity to seize on this dissatisfaction to make positive change. We have the White House! Anything is possible. We just have to make it happen.

That’s why we must bitterly oppose the appointment of people like Rahm Emanuel, John Kasich and Mitt Romney to President-elect Biden’s Cabinet. Each of these men are members of the Old Guard, and each of them have just as many skeletons in the closet as the President-elect. Instead of enacting positive change after the four years we experienced under Donald Trump, we’d go back to the days of President Obama. That is not good enough.

We fought tooth and nail to get Joe Biden in the White House. This lame-duck period between the election and Biden’s inauguration should be utilized as a time for celebration, rest and strategizing. Then, on the day President Biden gets sworn into office, we must fight tooth and nail once more for the America we want to see. We must force our President to represent us, not the interests of giant corporations, pharmaceutical companies and the Old Guard. 

Our future is not up to Joe Biden. It is up to us.