April 11, 2024

The case for Joe Biden

By Alexandru Giosan

This article represents the views of the author and not of the Economic Faculty Association Rotterdam.

Joe Biden is not doing well. His third-year approval rating of 39.8% is the lowest of any president since Jimmy Carter, who averaged 37.4% in a year in which American citizens were taken hostage by Iranian militants, gas prices skyrocketed and inflation reached double digits. American voters overwhelmingly consider him to be too old to be president and polling suggests that if an election were held today, he would lose to Donald Trump.

His age cannot be ignored, at 82 he would beat his own record for the oldest president ever inaugurated if he were to win. It’s only fair to question his cognitive ability, considering he is vying for another 4 years in office. While doctors insist that his health is just fine and he is perfectly capable of doing his job, his reoccurring gaffes remain, oftentimes, a painful watch.

On the other hand, Biden has had a remarkable presidency so far in terms of his accomplishments. Considering the international crises that he has faced, the US economy has proven extremely resilient, having outpaced every single G7 economy in terms of growth. In two years, he created more jobs than any other US president within a single term, while also presiding over historically low unemployment rates and maintaining relatively low inflation levels compared to other global economies. Despite not having a working majority in Congress, he has passed the largest investment by the U.S. to date toward combating the climate crisis, a 1.2 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill as well as the most comprehensive gun legislation in the last 30 years.

Despite these notable accomplishments, the majority of US voters attribute economic management success to Trump, while assigning blame to Biden for recent inflation and economic challenges. Many are not even familiar with some of Biden’s accomplishments.

Perhaps Americans have forgotten the tumultuous and divisive nature of Trump’s presidency: the constant drama, firings and scandals that embroiled him and his cabinet. Trump repeatedly issued threats to withdraw from NATO and cease funding for the WHO during the COVID-19 pandemic, which he frequently downplayed. He quit the Paris Climate Agreement and strained relations with the EU while cosying up to autocrats such as Putin and Kim Jong Un. His campaign boasts about him “killing Roe v Wade”, a decision by the US Supreme Court which defended the right to abortion. He encouraged his supporters to spark an insurrection in which violent protesters stormed the Capitol, putting members of Congress in danger. Most crucially, Trump refused to acknowledge his defeat in the 2020 election, making concerted efforts to discredit the voting process and assert his victory, actions for which he has been indicted. In 2020 American democracy stood strong, but after 4 more years of Trump, a peaceful transfer of power may not be so certain.

Another Trump term would be disastrous for Europe. He has threatened to let Russia “do whatever the hell they want”, and his election would undoubtedly mark the end of US support for Ukraine in their fight for freedom against Russia. If elected, trans-Atlantic relations would be strained precisely when their strength is needed most. NATO has never been more unified, and with the newly recognized threat of Russian aggression, it appears to have rediscovered its purpose. A fracture in this unity is precisely what Putin and other authoritarian regimes around the globe wish for.

Biden has reasons to be optimistic. Polls show him gaining ground on Trump, with some polls already showing Biden ahead nationally. The Biden campaign has significantly outpaced Trump’s in fundraising and appears to be conducting a more vigorous campaign. Stock markets are reaching record highs, inflation has been decreasing, and there are expectations of imminent interest rate cuts. Until November, Americans should have enough time to feel the effect of some of Biden’s policies and remind themselves of the chaos that Trump brings about.

Just like they’ve gotten used to in the past, Americans are going to have to choose the lesser evil. Joe Biden is by no means the perfect candidate, but at least upholds the principles of democracy. His opponent is a power-hungry, pathological liar without any regard for democratic norms and institutions. The choice should be a no-brainer.