“Just what do you see in Biden?”
It’s an honest question. Biden is not as charismatic as John Kennedy or Barack Obama. He’s not promoting changes as far-reaching as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
But Biden is a manager. Many voted for him because they believe he can improve the U.S. responses to the coronavirus pandemic and to global warming.
Even as the number of new coronavirus cases daily doubled to over 92,000 in the final six weeks of the election, Trump continued to say he’d done a great job preventing deaths and the disease was really no big deal.
Biden, on the other hand, offered management. He planned a national supply chain to oversee the distribution of supplies, including a vaccine that must be kept on dry ice and delivered in two shots three weeks apart.
He proposed requiring wearing of masks on federal property and encouraging governors to follow recommendations of health care experts. Under him, the U.S. will rejoin the World Health Organization and revive the National Security Council’s global health unit that Trump disbanded.
Biden has also determined to ask Congress to fund testing and treatment for the uninsured and underinsured, a public health workers corps of 100,000 people to assist in contact tracing, and assistance to keep businesses and schools open.
Protecting the health and welfare of citizens is one of the basic duties of democratic governments. Voters longing for a leader who accepted that responsibility might have been the source of Biden’s entire 5 million vote edge.
Yet, there was a second major source of Biden’s support. After 20 years of warnings, many people—particularly young voters—see climate change as a serious threat to their futures.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, over 49,000 wildfires burned nearly 9 million acres this year. Acres burned surpassed previous records by mid-September, but 47 fires were still active on Nov. 10.
Every year from 2016 through 2020 has set new records for tropical storm activity in the Atlantic. There’ve been 31 this year. A record 12 made landfall in the United States.
Globally, the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2005.
According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, a third of the contiguous United States were either ‘severely to extremely dry’ or ‘severely to extremely wet’ during July.
Early in his administration President Trump revoked regulations addressing climate change and promoted oil drilling, even in previously protected regions.
Biden plans to replace that executive order with one supporting reducing greenhouse gases. He may reinstate California’s right to require more stringent emission standards for cars and trucks and prohibit new drilling permits on federal lands.
Biden can restore the size of the Bears Ears National Monument and stop promoting energy production on the continental shelf. He may also order studies of environmental danger spots around the country and monitor pollution in threatened communities.
And he can order the methane monitors at well heads turned back on, hopefully making our natural gas exports once more acceptable to countries like France that disapprove of reckless pollution.
Biden will also renew our endorsement of the Paris Accord, which has no binding regulations, but will signal that the U.S. is returning to world leadership.
If Congress cooperates, we will also see more support for renewable energy and a reduction in subsidies for fossil fuel producers.
Democrats didn’t invent these crises—one might say they were acts of God—but Democrats are being called upon to lead in mitigating them. Let’s all hope that Biden can turn things around as well as Presidents Clinton and Obama managed to do.