Words by Taylor Manning
The world watched and many Americans held their breath on the Wednesday afternoon of January 20th, as Joe Biden was officially inaugurated as President of the United States. For most of you reading this, it was a big relief. He’s finally out!With Progressives turning out to vote in large numbers and providing crucial campaign support, it is easy to think that Biden is loved by the entirety of the democratic party. However, nearing his election and in the following days, progressive Facebook and Twitter accounts were flooded with the call to action: “No Honeymoon for Biden.” This was the tagline of a campaign put forth by RootsAction, a progressive network of political activists. The seemingly sharp turn from admiration to critique was confusing for many and shocking to others, but it holds a simple and important meaning: there can be no period of time where centrist policies are accepted as “good enough,” and activism is no longer needed.
The idea of accepting such policies goes back to the all too common practice of placing celebrities and those in the lime light on pedestals that can be a little too black and white. You love them or you hate them. Everything they do is horrible or perfection. Politicians can sometimes reach this pedestal status, and the Trump administration has blurred the lines between politicians and celebrities more than ever. But life is made of nuance and no one is infallible. This has become especially apparent in the past few days, as Biden has reopened a Trump era migrant camp, generating judgement from many progressives.
Last week we learned of the reopening of Trump era migrant camps for kids under Biden’s administration. But this camp is different because it comes with one major change: decorations. Biden boasts a gentle prison where cages are replaced with trailers and tents and military gear is replaced with matching outfits. Essentially this decision is nothing more than dressing up republican policies and calling them progressive. But this is not new to the democratic party or to Biden’s career. In the past, he has straddled the fence on many issue including abortion rights, corporate interests, and widely critiqued wars, characterizing Biden not as a democrat but as centrist.
This is not to say that he is all bad or should be equated to someone like Trump in office. In only the few weeks he has held the position of President, Biden has taken measures to ensure the health of the nation, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, repealed oppressive laws against the trans community, and made a pledge to fight racial inequality and xenophobia.
What this does mean is that Biden’s inauguration did not signal an end to everything that occurred during the Trump administration. He has brought a better baseline to U.S. politics but now that the vows have been said, we cannot simply stay in the honeymoon stage. Biden’s achievements can be recognized but he is not a “progressive champion” and leftist political activism does not halt at the Whitehouse door.