Biden Administration

Biden: Year One

Looking back at Biden's first year in office, did anything go quite as planned?


Very nearly a year ago, President Joe Biden vowed to "restore the soul" of America. On "democracy's day," the 46th president of the United States emphasized that unity was the only way to persevere through the biggest challenges facing the country. 

Biden has received extremely low approval ratings from Republicans in contrast to very high approval ratings from Democrats according to the latest Gallup poll. Biden's partisan approval gap was 83 percentage points– the largest gap ever recorded for the first year of a presidency. In his campaign victory speech, Biden said, "It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, and see each other again." But Biden only stoked the polarization fire in January 2022 when he likened anyone who disagreed with him on the issue of voting rights to the secessionist Jefferson Davis.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge for Biden in his first year as president. The delta and omicron strains of COVID-19 largely defined the year, making it eerily similar to 2020. Biden did manage to reach his goal of giving out 100 million vaccinations within his first 100 days, but as vaccination rates stalled, he turned to authoritarian measures to force people to get the jab. Most recently, Biden's vaccine mandate for companies with over 100 employees was blocked by the Supreme Court for being an overreach of federal power. 

After the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, then-candidate Biden made policing reform the centerfold of his campaign. He promised to create a national police oversight commission that never got off the ground, then Biden put his weight behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that failed to get through the Senate. Biden may have to resort to executive action in a last ditch effort to deliver on a signature issue

Biden did achieve something his three predecessors failed at: getting American troops out of Afghanistan. But, the horrifying and disorganized implementation of this long-awaited plan made more headlines than the achievement itself. As Billy Binion writes, "It is possible to champion our troop removal while criticizing the way it was done. The two are not mutually exclusive." Biden got U.S. troops out of harm's way while leaving thousands of Afghan interpreters and allies at the mercy of the Taliban. The situation in Afghanistan has only gotten worse as large swaths of their population face starvation due to billions of dollars of aid to their country disappearing overnight.

And don't forget, Biden's original promise was to put an "end to forever wars," but America remains involved in long-running wars in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. 

Biden did have a few early and relatively easy wins when it came to reversing some of Trump's actions. The U.S. rejoined the Paris Climate Accord. Biden threw out the travel ban of people from Muslim countries. And he also halted funding to Trump's border wall. Biden maintains that he didn't "overpromise", but his progressive agenda items seem to be going nowhere.

Today, Biden remarked that it's "never been a good bet to bet against the American people," but no one is betting on Biden getting much accomplished in his next three years either.