The administration of US President Joe Biden is now one year old. It began its work in a unique way in the American political arena at the time, when Washington DC turned into a military zone with the presence of nearly 25,000 troops to secure the inauguration ceremony. Like any other governments, the one-year record of this administration had many ups and downs. A record that, despite some of its positive points, its weaknesses were unimaginable before Biden took office.
This is because in these days, Biden is more similar to a second Jimmy Carter than the person we knew as a candidate in the presidential election and former president Barack Obama’s vice president. With his popularity standing at an average of 42% in all opinion polls, the man has the worst record among US presidents in recent decades after Donald Trump, and his popularity rate has constantly been declining in the past months. You may be wondering how Biden, who began his administration with a popularity rate of 53 percent, came to face the current critical situation in American public opinion? Perhaps a brief look at Biden’s performance and an overview of his government’s successes and failures will help us better understand his one-year record.
Vaccination & fight against coronavirus
One of the main challenges for the Biden administration over the past year has been the coronavirus crisis, which caused between 3,000 and 5,000 deaths in the United States in the final days of the Trump administration. However, the Biden administration’s good start in vaccinations against the coronavirus and the measures it took in its first months to combat the pandemic were among the things that revived hopes in the US for an improvement of the situation. In the first months of Biden’s presidency, the United States was one of the leading countries in the field of vaccination against COVID-19, with deaths and infection cases reaching the minimum levels. At that time, opinion polls also confirmed Biden’s performance in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
For instance, a YouGov survey found that two-thirds of American citizens were satisfied with Biden’s performance in the anti-COVID fight. This satisfaction, of course, did not last long and gradually decreased as the US entered the second half of 2021. Lagging behind in the vaccination drive against the coronavirus (only 63 percent of Americans have been fully vaccinated!) and the widespread prevalence of strains such as Delta and Omicron in the country has been among the main reasons for the Americans’ dissatisfaction with the Biden administration these days. The latest YouGOv survey found that only 49 percent of Americans are satisfied with Biden’s performance against the coronavirus.
The unemployment rate is 6.4 percent and the economy is in crisis. This was the description of the economic situation that Trump had left behind for the next US administration; a situation that millions of Americans hoped would end soon with Biden in the White House and the US economy would be back on the right track. But, with the performance of the current US president, the Americans’ economic dissatisfaction has doubled and this time, a 7-percent inflation has hit the country’s economy. Such inflation has been unprecedented in the US over the past 40 years. Meanwhile, the crisis of the supply chain of basic goods, which has been evident on occasions such as Thanksgiving or the New Year, has played a large part in the Americans’ negative view of Biden’s economic performance.
On the other hand, in just one year, the unemployment rate reached 3.9 percent and more than 6 million jobs were created in the US economy in 12 months. The statistics are an important achievement for the Biden government. Until today, however, the negative economic statistics of the Biden government have outweighed the positive ones. According to the latest YouGov poll, 62 percent of US citizens oppose the Biden administration’s performance on the economy and 70 percent on the inflation.
Crisis of migrants on the US border
Many experts and analysts believe that the crisis of migrants on the border was one of the main challenges of Biden’s first year in office. Last year, the US Border Patrol reported almost 1.7 million encounters with illegal immigrants on the US-Mexico border. This figure, which has quadrupled compared to the last year of Trump’s presidency, is a strange new record in the recent decades of the US history.
It is interesting to know that the population of migrants on the border has exceeded 1 million only a few times in the past 60 years, the last of which was in 2006. But, what we see today on the US’s southern border is an unprecedented situation for which the Biden administration has not yet been able to find a solution. According to the latest Ipsos poll, only 38 percent of American citizens approve of Biden’s response to the migrant crisis, and nearly two-thirds oppose it.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan, China-Taiwan rifts, the boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and indirect talks with Iran were the main foreign policy challenges of the Biden administration’s first year in office. Although it is too early to judge Biden’s performance in most of the aforesaid issues, and we will have to wait for the coming months and the measures of the current administration, it is clear that the catastrophic US army pullout from Afghanistan recorded a black spot in Biden’s presidency. The black point was initiated by the evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul and reached its peak by the killing of more than 13 US soldiers in an explosion at the Kabul airport and the stranding of tens of thousands of US allies in Afghanistan. According to the latest YouGov survey, 62 percent of Americans oppose Biden’s performance in Afghanistan and only 38 percent approve of it.
In the end, the successful passage of the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Bill as well as the failure to approve the Build Back Better Act and the Voting Rights Bill should be added to the current US government’s list of pros and cons. These are the schemes and programs that Biden needs for his party to win the 2022 midterm elections. Because right now, his weaknesses outweigh his strengths and the alarm bells are ringing for the defeat of the Democrats due to Biden’s poor performance in the 2022 elections!
By Mohammad Mehdi Abbasi