President Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday sparked a flurry of comments ranging from simple congratulations to melodramatic purple prose praising Biden’s call for unity.
But Biden’s presidency isn’t an excuse for the left to become complacent. Now that there’s a Democratic trifecta — that is, Democratic control of the White House as well as both the Senate and the House of Representatives — in power, it’s the perfect time to fight, to push harder than ever for policies like Medicare for All and meaningful police reform.
Biden’s presidency is certainly a good thing for progressives. For all of his faults, he is vastly superior to former President Donald Trump, whose tenure in the White House was marked by blatant racism expressed in his vicious rhetoric, horrific policy and disregard for democratic ideals.
We are already seeing some in office use the moment for good. Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, and Chair of the Senate Rules Committee Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, have promised to introduce legislation that aims to take big money out of politics.
This is exactly the right direction those on the left ought to be going in.
Yet we should be wary of the Democrats who are treating the election of Biden as a golden ticket out of the deeply unsettled, polarized country America has become in recent years. While the president is certainly an improvement on his predecessor, he is not a messiah — he is an individual with a platform that is still inadequate when considering the serious problems facing our country.
Rather than going along with his mostly unambitious policy aims, progressives should instead take this opportunity to push Biden and his administration harder than ever in order to achieve our goals.
Progressives must resist the urge to relax now that Trump is out of office. The urge is understandable. Constant attacks can be exhaustive, and given the atmosphere of supposed “unity,” it’s tempting to just let things be.
But there is no better time for progressives to fight than now.
Trump may be out of office, but the culture he created will likely remain — just look at the riots that recently occurred at the Capitol, which indicate a very real dedication to Trump’s dangerous politics among a significant number of Americans. America is at a crossroads, with the erosion of democratic ideals and fascism on one side and the road to healing on the other.
Biden’s proponents claim his presidency will lead to the latter, yet America’s severe inequality problem, which Biden’s more moderate platform will likely not adequately address, suggests that unrest will continue to build despite the transition of power from one party to the other.
Progressives must take this opportunity to not only increase the volume of the conversation about our policy goals, but also engage in real grassroots activism. Whether it be raising awareness of racial injustice through protest, campaigning for people-powered candidates or writing to representatives in office, there is so much that progressives can do to draw attention to what we’re trying to achieve.
Even as Biden’s presidency goes on, the left must fight for a more just, truly equitable America.
Molly Hayes (she/her) is a junior studying English. She plans to work in the book publishing industry.