To many, the election of Joe Biden signalled a return to normalcy and the beginning of a period of change. However, Biden’s presidency thus far has been underwhelming, mainly due to how little he has done to effectuate his agenda. While successfully sparking a rejuvenated faith in the presidency for many Americans, Biden has ultimately failed in his first 100 days because he has not proposed a truly comprehensive plan to address police brutality and has not put forth an aggressive or realistic program in the fight against climate change.
With the recent conviction of Derek Chauvin and the recent spike in protests, President Biden is being forced to confront police brutality head on. While the problem is complex — as it is composed of complicated racial relations and disagreements on the function of law enforcement — the frustration stems from the lack of any concrete action on the issue. On the campaign trail, then-candidate Biden claimed he would enact “real police reform.” But, while President Biden is expected to speak on police brutality in the upcoming week, he has failed to take significant action yet.
This point is demonstrated by one of the most recent examples of police controversy — the shooting of Duante Wright, a 20-year old black man. He was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Center, just outside of Minneapolis, after an officer mistook her gun for a taser. Despite footage of the incident being released, and what was essentially a confession by the department of involuntary manslaughter by way of negligence, President Biden has yet to take a stance on the event. The president has declined to comment whether or not he believes the officer responsible for the killing should face charges, sparking outrage among civil rights advocates.
He has also failed to unify his own party in the fight for police reform. He has distanced himself from the progressive Democrats by rejecting the concept of defunding or abolishing the police, yet he has done nothing to consolidate the moderate and progressive ideas into something palatable for both factions within the party. The party has managed to get a bill in motion in Congress in the form of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but there is still a long way to go. The bill has already sparked debates within the Democratic party over contentious details such as whether or not to federal revoke qualified immunity, and could be unlikely to pass the Senate. Democrats have the rare opportunity of controlling both chambers of Congress and the presidency, but this advantage will be wasted, and no significant police reform will be achieved, if the president does not inspire unity.
Police reform has not been the only front on which Biden has failed to show any real signs of progress in his first 100 days; the fight against climate change is just as lacking in terms of real policy solutions. While Biden’s administration has made some exciting promises — the most notable being his promise to cut the nation’s carbon emissions by “at least in half by the end of the decade” — there has been great concern over the practicality of such change. Not to mention, even if the U.S. completely eliminated all of their emissions, the climate crisis would still be in full swing, due to the issue’s global nature. Prior to taking office, President Biden vowed to make the U.S. the global leader in the fight against climate change and to “put climate change at the center” of our foreign policy. In a recent summit to discuss the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, Biden met with the leaders of 40 nations. However, what is troubling is that neither China, India, nor Russa, who produce 30%, 7%, and 5% of the world’s greenhouse gases, respectively, vowed to reduce their emissions. President Biden has failed in his first 100 days to truly make the United States the leader by not holding these nations accountable, which would likely be needed in order to address the problem in the most effective way possible.
The President’s lack of leadership on police reform and his failure to make the U.S. an influential leader in combating climate change have been his primary failures in his first 100 days. He promised to prioritize police reform, yet has not demanded accountability, and he has taken a back seat on the problem, handing the responsibility to a divided and dysfunctional Congress. As for his environmental claims, it seems his promise to be a strong international leader in climate change was sincere, but empty. Until he can get into a position to put pressure on negatively contributing nations, nothing will truly be accomplished.