No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, during President Biden’s inaugural speech, you couldn’t avoid the warm feeling of hope for unity and the comforting impression that the new President was the moderate, conciliatory leader so many had hoped for. However, since then, that promise of unity and peace is being dismantled bit by bit, with each stroke of the many executive order pens, neatly lined up on the President’s Resolute desk. The machine-gun succession of executive orders, as well as their actual contents, are anything but moderate or constructive. As we write this, President Biden has been in the White House for only a few days and he has already signed 33 executive orders. One thing has become quite clear in this very short period: he (or the people around, behind, and above him) are intent on reversing any and all initiatives created under the Trump administration. If you are one of the 74 million citizens who voted for a second term of Trump, you are now forced to witness the rapid and complete dismantling of the policies and projects that he had initiated.
Watching this, and bearing in mind that no other president has signed so many executive orders in such a short time after their inauguration, one gets the strong impression that these decisions were made in a state of mind that has little to do with promoting national unity or “healing”. Revenge seems more like it (although admittedly, us Swiss do find this “phenomenon” of the “next president” of a different party dismantling what the last has done sometimes difficult to understand).
While the mainstream media, in America and internationally, are generally celebrating Biden as a gracious, loving and wise father figure, hailing each of the executive orders for their courage, decisiveness, moral goodness and speed, those who take the time to actually study these presidential decrees, may be forced to question this global jubilation. Are these the executive orders of a moderate Democrat? Are they really meant to serve the entire nation or just further the agenda of select lobbyist groups and fringe activists? Is this how he intends to unite the American people?
Read Biden’s executive orders under the following link: https://www.federalregister.gov/presidential-documents/executive-orders/joe-biden/2021
As mentioned, since taking office, Biden has reversed some of former President Donald Trump’s highest-profile policy initiatives. Of course, some of this was to be expected and reflects a lot of the rhetoric and the promises Biden made during his presidential campaign. For example, Biden rejoined the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization. He stopped the construction of the southern border wall and he overturned a travel ban on several majority-Muslim and other countries. And while you can have differing views on these topics, they are hardly radically progressive.
However, he also signed orders that hardly leave much room to unite the country. For instance, he revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. His proposed immigration overhaul includes a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented residents, criminal or not. And then, appearing to have openly pandered to the far left, he passed executive order 13988, under the title of “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation”. While nobody should question the constitutional right to equal and fair treatment, this order goes much further than that. Based on how it is written, for instance, it raises the question whether from now on transgender women (biological men) will be able to participate in women’s sport competitions.
All this has us wondering who is really pushing the new administration’s agenda. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was among those who accused Mr. Biden of contradicting his own rhetoric on bipartisanship by catering to a progressive agenda with those actions. As he put it: “There is plenty of time for President Biden to remember that he does not owe his election to the far left.”
We are starting to wonder if the policy directions Mr. Biden is taking will actually help strengthen unity, strengthen the US economy, and strengthen the US’s western competitiveness in general. Time will tell whether this state of “overhaul” is temporary. We can only hope that a more moderate Biden will show up soon. His Executive Orders are signaling a collision course with the GOP. Under this course, the polarization and social tension in America may be expected to continue and heat up even more.