Friday marked the half-way point in Joe Biden’s first, and possibly only, term as president. It’s been a remarkable two years. His election marked the end of the short-lived Trump era, though that was not obvious as Biden took the oath of office.
The dangerous reactionary populism that rose during the four years of the Trump presidency peaked on January 6 and would wane in the aftermath. In its place is a new feeling of cautious optimism about our country and the sense that the power of democracy is still alive. We are also at the dawn of a new age that will change the way we power our nation and possibly renew our manufacturing economy. While Trump tapped into the anger and resentment of the working class, Bidenism is trying to offer them a chance at the American Dream again.
The Trump era was really the end of the 40-year Reagan Revolution, taken to its logical extreme. Reaganism embraced the idea that poverty is a choice, government is more harmful than helpful, that free markets are a panacea for all ills, that individualism is morally superior to community, that wealth trickles down, that tax cuts pay for themselves, and that free trade trumps fair trade.
The result was a concentration of wealth that created gaping income inequality. Unchecked trade devastated areas that depended on manufacturing, leaving residents without the government assistance that would have been available during the New Deal and Great Society eras. Extreme individualism, fostered by a resentment of government, created a distrust of community that led to a proliferation of guns among people who became irrationally scared of their neighbors.
Joe Biden brought to the Oval Office a sense of optimism and a belief in the power of the federal government to make our lives a little better and solve the problems that collectively threaten us. He kicked off his presidency with a vaccine rollout that largely stopped the pandemic in its tracks. While COVID will be with us forever, the government response to the disease saved 3 million lives and $1.15 trillion, according a report from the University of Minnesota. His stimulus program brought the country out of the recession and created more jobs than any president in history. And he passed a massive infrastructure bill that had eluded his predecessors and will begin modernizing and rebuilding the country.
While Biden’s popularity suffered in the aftermath of the Afghanistan pullout, he kept his head down and continued to work. By the summer of 2022, his administration was cutting bipartisan deals that put restrictions on guns and increased the manufacture of semiconductors. He also offered a student loan forgiveness program and passed the Inflation Reduction Act, making the rich and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes, reducing the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, and accelerating our transition to clean energy. His accomplishments will transform America.
The 2020 election signaled the end of the Reagan Revolution and the beginning of the Biden Transformation. In the wake of the 1982 midterm, most people didn’t realize the transformation that had occurred, but Reagan had put in place the foundations for a new approach to governing. As the country came out of the recession that ended stagflation, Reagan touted his accomplishments as Morning in America. Similary, most people don’t recognize the shift taking place today, but Joe Biden is changing America. He’s slowly but surely restoring faith in the power of government. He’s putting in place transformational policies that will be seen as the beginning of the end of the threat of climate change. He will be credited with ending the most serious threats of the pandemic. And he will be seen as resurrecting manufacturing in the country.
We still have a lot of challenges to our country, not the least of which is defeating the authoritarian right that is still a menace to our democracy. However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The GOP is in the midst of civil war that that will either end with the governing wing of the party taking control or with populists who find themselves unelectable in any place but the narrowest of districts. The legislation passed over the past year will begin to have an impact before the end of the year with new jobs and improved infrastructure. The economy is continuing to grow and inflation is quickly subsiding. Americans are starting to feel better about their future for the first time in years. The president has shown them that, together, we can solve our problems and that the divisiveness that’s defined the past decade won’t. It’s the dawn of Bidenism.