The danger of political complacency in a Biden-era Presidency

Joe Biden is officially the president of the United States; activism still cant take a back seat

Joe+Biden+speaks+at+a+campaign+event+in+Iowa%2C+March+2019+%28Pre-COVID-19%29.+During+the+Primary+Presidential+election%2C+in+reference+to+the+Crime+Bill+Biden+said%2C+%E2%80%9CI+haven%27t+always+been+right%2C+I+know+we+haven%27t+always+done+things+the+right+way.+But+I%27ve+always+tried.%22+Photo+courtesy+of+CreativeCommons.

Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Iowa, March 2019 (Pre-COVID-19). During the Primary Presidential election, in reference to the Crime Bill Biden said, “I haven’t always been right, I know we haven’t always done things the right way. But I’ve always tried.” Photo courtesy of CreativeCommons.

A moment of joy and relief can be felt all across the country as President Biden has officially taken office. After years of anger, pain, and marginalization of People of Color, women, and LGBTQ+ Americans, there is rightful relief at the receding of Donald Trump—man who refused to condemn Nazis and has endorsed and approved blatantly transphobic and homophobic policies.

It’s quite difficult to understate the danger these minority groups faced at the cause of the Trump administration. 

The Trump Accountability Project, organized by the LGBTQ+ rights organization GLAAD, lays out a comprehensive list of the attacks the Trump presidency inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community from his first day in office. 

The Trump administration, upon arriving in office, removed any mention of the LGBTQ+ community from the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor websites. Just days before Trump left office, Human Health Services finalized a rule to rescind regulations that prevented discrimination against LGBTQ people seeking adoption and health services. 

Trump’s record on race is equally as distressing. Trump infamously stated that white supremacists were “very fine people,” and continually pandered to his racist base of supporters, using purposefully divisive language about immigration and calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.” 

People who have a capacity for empathy and critical thinking can agree that Trump leaving office is, indeed, a good thing for the safety of American citizens. My worry, however, is that with Trump out of office, activism and critique of those in positions of power will less of a priority in the average American psyche.

President Trump’s outward bigotry and violence towards minority communities has changed the political landscape and the way that American citizens view politics. It’s incredibly easy to see and call out hate when it’s right in front of us. But what about when discrimination is more subtle?

This week, President Biden signed an executive order ending Justice Department contracts with private prisons in an attempt to combat systemic racism, however, Joe Biden’s record on race is not one to be praised either. 

Biden has had an extensive career in politics, much of which he spent working on anti-crime legislation with segregationist senators. In 1994 Biden praised Nixon’s platform of “law and order,” and criticised democrats who wanted “Law and order with justice.” 

“It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society. I don’t want to ask, ‘What made them do this?’ They must be taken off the street,” Biden said in 1993.

The crime legislation was full of thinly-veiled racist policies and was incredibly detrimental for the Black community. 

It’s difficult to believe, or trust, Biden’s recent platform of criminal justice reform when he spent years of his career contributing massively to mass incarceration. 

As for President Biden’s record on LGBTQ+ rights, Biden voted in 1996 to block federal recognition of same-sex marriages in the Defense of Marriage Act. And although Biden’s public view of LGBTQ+ rights has changed as his political career has progressed, it would be irresponsible to downplay the effects of his homophobic voting record and the harms that has caused the LGBTQ+ community over the time he held public office.

My point is simply this, if Trump can teach us anything, it must be that we can no longer have blind faith in those who lead the country. We must constantly fight for democracy and justice for those who are discriminated against and marginalized. 

Call it pessimism, but those whose lives could be, and have been, damaged by politicians like Joe Biden do not have the luxury of complacency, especially in the wake of Donald Trump. 

To turn a blind eye now would be dangerous and opposing everything we believed during Trump’s time in office. We must criticize those who endanger POC and LGBTQ+ rights, criticize those who allow poverty, homelessness, racism, and homophobia to run rampant in this country. Be skeptical and continue to fight for marginalized communities—no matter who’s in power.