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  • By Samantha Popovics

Joe Biden wins election: What have his first days in office entailed?

This year began with the storming of the United States Capitol as the U.S. said farewell to the 45th president.

However, the year changed after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who is quickly making decisions to fix the dismantled pieces of the country.

The Biden administration began mandating their agenda after the first day Biden was inducted, as promised to Americans four years ago. Many decisions include the undoing of Trump era policies. Biden’s plans and policies heavily emphasize the importance of unity, racial justice, healthcare, COVID-19, education, and the global warming effects on the environment.

Biden has signed 25 executive orders within the first two weeks of his presidency. This is more orders than any previous U.S. president has signed within their first 100 days; Trump signed 24. On the first day of Biden’s presidency, he rejoined the Paris Agreement that Trump had withdrew from in 2017.

Pamela Martin, Ph.D., an instructor of environmental politics and sustainable development at Coastal Carolina University, said rejoining the Paris Climate Accord sets goals of lowering greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientific reports. She also shared her views on how the Biden administration has already benefited the state of the environment in South Carolina.

“This action also provides the U.S. the opportunity to re-engage in a leadership role on climate change at the global level,” said Martin.

According to Martin, the state of South Carolina at one time was the leading state in opposition to offshore drilling along the east coast. Biden extended the moratorium (Trump removed) that was put in place under the Obama administration for offshore drilling, prohibiting the activity and drilling leases on federal lands.

“Given our local governments and citizens polled emphatically opposed offshore drilling due to our fragile ecosystems and bustling tourism economy, this is a big win for our coast and our state,” said Martin.

Martin also spoke about water quality protections and how the drinking water for Conway and Myrtle Beach residents comes from the Waccamaw River and the Winyah Bay, which is the third largest watershed on the east coast.

Martin said, “Policies that protect our water and air, reduce emissions, and re-connect us to nature, especially during such a difficult pandemic will reap long term benefits well beyond this administration toward a better, more equitable, and healthier quality of life for all.”

Kaitlin Sidarsky, Ph.D., a professor of women and public policy at CCU, said that the Biden administration has already “hit the ground running,” in providing new people government positions, signing executive orders, and laying out plans in several policy areas.

She believes that many of these efforts are to respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis and to allow the vaccination to be distributed at a more efficient pace. The Biden administration is also overturning many Trump era polices to support the political views of Biden’s.

“You can also see in this administration a clear effort to more visibly include the Vice President, Kamala Harris as well as efforts to make those who they appoint more racially, ethnically and gender balanced then any administration has been before,” said Sidarsky.

For the first time in U.S. history, there is a woman vice president, as well as a transgender Assistant Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine.

Sidarsky also voiced concern over the near year-long pandemic and the repercussions that come with this disease that is still on-going.

“People want to get the vaccine but can’t,” said Sidarsky. “The virus is still restricting and affecting people’s everyday lives from loss of employment, childcare, loved ones, or rising medical bills due to getting the virus themselves.”

Aside from COVID-19 concerns, she mentioned that because of the capitol riots, Americans must develop a trust in the new leaders.

“Leaders at all levels of government have a lot of work to do to rebuild trust as well as get society back up and running in a post COVID-19 world that still looks to be months away,” said Sidarsky.

Michael Promisel, Ph.D.,a professor of political theory and African- American political thought at CCU, feels that although Biden’s messages of endurance have established unity and a return to “normalcy,” people are not leaving a divided America behind in the wake of this new presidency.

“For liberals, Biden’s administration has provided a breath of fresh air and already lived up too many campaign promises, and so far, could exhibit the most progressive presidency in recent memory,” said Promisel. “For conservatives, the promises of unity may be lost behind disappointment at the significant amount of executive action taken by Biden in his first few days.”

He also mentioned that today it is common for Americans to voice what is “wrong” or “different” in American democracy. When looking back at history in a comparative perspective, not much has changed despite people denouncing a “civil war” or “national crisis” in America. There is no distinctive change that was made in the lives of Americans from January 19th to the 20th.

“American democracy remains unequivocally intact, despite what many are saying,” said Promisel. “Transitions of power are no small feat, especially amidst a national crisis like a global pandemic. We should be careful to jump to quick judgment before losing faith in our institutions.”

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