As Joe Biden ascended to the Presidency, he sent waves across America and the world that gave people “hope.” In the challenging times when the world faced the most devastating health crisis, America had more to cure from. In his victory speech, Biden announced healing a bitterly divided country and ending the pandemic as his two topmost priorities. Dubbing the electoral victory a moral triumph, Biden had undertaken to comfort America. The speech Biden made had landed well with the people, but how well-meaning his efforts have been to remove the chasm and provide the healing touch remains a matter of debate. While some believe that the differences and divisions have only grown since Biden took the reins, others see the continued marginalization of democratic radical leadership as a position sustained in the right earnest. Biden’s campaign had run on noble but ambiguous lines that left political pundits a lot to look for in the dark. This article inquires how successful or not Biden has been in embarking on a path of unity and restoring the soul of America.
The last presidential election was arguably the most divisive in the recent history of the US. Despite Biden’s call for unity, a report by USC shows that the country remains as divided as it was at the start of Biden’s Presidency. The issues that riled up the country during Trump’s Presidency have continued to drive wedges between the parties and the people. Among the more divisive are the issues relating to climate change, environment protection, gun laws, and immigration. According to a Pew survey, the parties have gone adrift more than ever in the past over climate change issues. Although the younger republican lot does see climate change as a crisis, the repeated onslaughts of President Trump and other Republicans over climate crisis have created divisions among the parties and the people. Biden’s prompt appointment of John Kerry as a special envoy for climate and an immediate return to the Paris accord made it clear where the parties stand on this issue. The Republican disregard for climate change reflects equally concerning environmental protection. While eight out of ten Democrats feel climate protection is of utmost importance, less than four Republicans out of ten seem to worry about it. Thus, the Biden Administration’s expenditure and the constraints it has put over American polluting enterprises and land-use changes have caused the Republicans and Democrats fiercely against each other.
According to the latest Pew survey, the number of Americans who want stricter gun laws (even in the wake of numerous school shootings across the US) has decreased from 60 percent in 2019 to 53 percent today. The rift is even wider when we compare the number of people who see gun violence as a significant issue in American society; the republicans v democrats are pitted at 18 percent to 73. America also remains divided on the question of immigrants. As Trump’s border wall remains an object of fancy in the public imagination, the unpraiseworthy handling of the southern border is one of the most criticized actions of the Biden Administration.
The troubles for the Biden administration concerning uniting the divided nation are far from over. With the overturning of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court of the USA has let the genie out of the bottle. By a single judgment, the Supreme Court has made abortion illegal in more than eight states. Several other states are in the offing to either completely ban abortions or regulate them heavily. Prospects vis a vis bridging the divide seem not very promising.
In his forthcoming book titled “The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House,” Charles Whipple describes Biden’s ascendance to the Oval office as “He’s been dealt an extraordinarily bad hand.” To deliver the country from such bitter divisions is no mean task but has Biden done enough to bridge divides instead of widening them is a point worth discussing. In Biden’s Presidency, points of bipartisan consensus and convergences have not been very forthcoming. However, that is not to say that there have been no attempts or success to have consensus. Lately, the school shootings in Texas gave America a much-needed shock to lose its reluctance toward stricter gun laws. Despite most Americans supporting the right to own firearms, Gallup’s poll had suggested in the previous year that Americans are not opposed to a stricter legal regime for their guns and heirloom. Taking a cue from the outrage and riding on sentiments, the US Senate passed bipartisan gun-safety legislation with a considerable margin. Not only that, but Biden also secured a bipartisan victory with his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. Additionally, Biden’s steadfast support for Ukraine has also received bipartisan approval.
Onwards? Yes. Upwards? Not sure!
Biden’s miseries have also been aggravated due to an un-friendly Supreme Court. As Americans brace for more turnovers, and Biden may be compelled to pass executive orders to negate those rulings, the divisions only seem to grow from here. The going-after of Donald Trump, the unilateral executive orders on abortions, and the relentless pursuit of stricter gun laws have only added to the woes of the cause of unity and bipartisanship. It is not so that political divisions have marred only the United States. Of late, social and political divisions have seen a rise in many democracies, viz. India, Australia, and France, and tackling such divisions have been arduous for the respective governments and political communities worldwide. Thomas A. Bayliss, in his paper, suggests that to overcome political divisions, political blocks within a polity need to evolve an “elite consensus” to keep the democracy from becoming more fragmented. However, an effort to arrive at such a political consensus over the more divisive issues has been virtually missing on the part of the Biden administration. The priorities listed on the White House website mention seven priorities of the current administration. From mending the fraught race relations to restoring America’s global standing, the pursuit of unity and bipartisanship don’t find space. President Biden had done right in identifying the problems of American politics but has so far belied his promises of ushering in an era of healing. President Biden, despite several failings, has the time to salvage the cause of unity and do more than what his opponents dismiss as jawboning.