As President Joe Biden enters the 13th month of his presidency, we must acknowledge the progress that has been made thus far. In this time, the president has made strides regarding the economy with the Build Back Better Act and the U.S.’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many, specifically young Democrats, are still left wondering when other issues will be addressed.
President Biden has failed young Democrats on three fronts: social justice, education and the climate crisis, each of which rests insurmountable weight on younger generations. Unless significant changes are made, I foresee Biden’s younger voters rescinding their support for him in the upcoming 2024 election.
Social justice in the United States has recently experienced one of its most volatile forms, with cries from the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements reverberating through the political sphere. These cries, however, have gone largely unanswered. Biden, although a passive supporter of these movements, has done little to reinforce the demands of grassroots and social justice groups such as these, and this has manifested in multiple forms.
We have hardly seen any cases of Biden meeting with civil rights activists to discuss policymaking, and this reflects through the president’s failure to pass any substantial acts to combat police brutality, anti-black racism or discriminatory voting practices. The BREATHE Act, which seeks to redistribute tax-based police funding to communities of color, has picked up little traction within Congress, partly due to the president’s lack of support, and other forms of reconstructive measures on any of these issues have yet to see the surface.
We must next consider student debt. As of Jan. 27, 2022, U.S. student loan debt comes in at a whopping, but unsurprising, $1.75 trillion. Let’s put that number into perspective. In 2021, the U.S. allocated a modest $705.4 billion for the Department of Defense, with projections for 2022 spending being upwards of $750 billion. Similarly, the Treasury injected $1.5 trillion into the economy in March, 2020, with worries about decreased spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary justification. Yes, this was under the previous president, but it acts as further proof that the U.S. is not incapable of such an expenditure.
The act of canceling student debt is nothing more than a stroke-of-the-pen issue, and each day that goes by which Biden fails to do so is further evidence that his promises early in his campaign were hollow. During his campaign, Biden pledged up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for each borrower. At the time of writing, 43.4 million Americans have student loan debt, with an average debt balance of approximately $37,000. This so-called pledge to alleviate Americans of, on average, only a third of their student loan debt for the small cost of $434 billion has proven itself to be nothing more than a futile attempt to attract the votes of current and former students. Where is our money?
This brings us to the U.S.’ response to the climate crisis. Given its presence as an existential threat to all of humanity, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that combating climate change is at the forefront of our political agenda. This would be deceivingly optimistic. With the Build Back Better Bill hardly placing emphasis on climate regulations, many are left wondering what the president plans to do to curtail the destruction of our planet. Additionally, we are currently awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which is set to be voted upon on Feb. 28, 2022. The ruling could severely limit the EPA’s ability to regulate the emission of greenhouse gasses, and ultimately render much of the Clean Air Act useless.
Biden’s time to respond to the climate crisis is running out. Current projections give us less than 15 years before we reach the infamous point of no return: the 1.5 degree Celsius mark, which climate scientists cite as the point at which we can no longer reverse the effects of climate change. This affects all of humanity, but it especially places responsibility and repercussions onto younger people.
So, what do I want to tell Joe Biden right now? That his lack of active and vocal support for social justice and human rights movements perpetuates the silencing of such crusades. That his empty promises of student loan forgiveness do not come without a toll on students. That the U.S. needs to prioritize its response to the climate crisis before it is too late. That young voters are fed up with his inability to implement meaningful policies surrounding the issues that affect current and future generations, and not just his. That he has failed us.