You may think the tricky part for Joe Biden is over. He won the election, despite Trump's challenges and accusations. However, the next year will be a challenging one for Biden, as he tries to bring about change amidst the US' current problems.
Tackling racial inequality
In Biden's own words, he pledged to unite Americans. That will be difficult as there are still large groups of people and individuals who have racist views, whether intentionally or not. While Biden (in his Build Back Better agenda) stated his plan to achieve this equality, it would have been a colossal task even pre-pandemic. Now it's only going to be more challenging to put funds into achieving this.
While Biden (in his Build Back Better agenda) stated his plan to achieve this equality, it would have been a colossal task even pre-pandemic.
Providing affordable housing for those who may have faced barriers because of their ethnicity and ensuring fair wages for all regardless of skin color are just two of the issues he will struggle with in his efforts to achieve equality. Given the impact the pandemic has had worldwide, many people face job losses and homelessness. This could widen the divide as people panic and wrongly see opportunities created for people of color as taking something away from them personally.
While many people will keep these worries to themselves and perhaps build resentment and lean more towards misinformed views, Biden needs to find a way of allowing a public discussion where people can air their worries. Finding ways to work together and overcome their differences without the situation dividing people further is essential. Tackling racism is a complicated matter and will ultimately take time, as Bree Picower explores in her book Reading, Writing Racism, which covers strategies for how education programs can disrupt and transform racism.
Part of the challenge Biden faces is police reform. The police need to be able to do their job and protect the public so that everyone can feel safe in their day-to-day lives. That includes everyone, regardless of race. While it's necessary to arrest anyone suspected of breaking the law, the amount of force used needs to be proportionate, particularly when the suspect isn't white. However, getting people to change years of thinking and behaving the way they do was never going to be an easy task.
Biden will also find it difficult to remove restrictions on immigration without inciting anger from those who oppose the move. While he shouldn't pander to them, if he wants to unite America, he will have to find a way to do this without causing further division.
The pandemic and the economy
There hasn't been a global pandemic of the severity of COVID in our lifetime. Therefore, the situation Biden now faces is unprecedented, and how he deals with it will determine whether his term in office is successful or not.
As the vaccine starts to roll out slowly, he still faces the challenge of getting the people of America to obey restrictions to avoid spreading the virus as they wait for the vaccine, in addition to convincing those who are reluctant to have the injection. While many people will be keen, they may not understand why vulnerable groups of people are first in line, ahead of them.
Also, providing adequate healthcare will be a challenge, not just for those with COVID but also for other health problems. The gaps between the richest and the poorest could mean life and death for some, particularly with job losses and people unable to afford insurance.
The economy, in general, is struggling. The challenge for Biden will be providing jobs for the large number of unemployed people, as many businesses have shut their doors and more are under threat of closing. Supporting those who at risk of losing their homes will be another challenge. Whatever he does, it's unlikely to please everyone.
Climate change will be another challenge. While Biden has pledged to tackle climate change, he will find it challenging to convince individuals and businesses to work towards reducing US greenhouse gas emissions. Anything that requires extra cost at the moment will be a hard sell. He might need to introduce a tax on carbon dioxide emissions to encourage businesses to be more environmentally friendly in the way they operate.
Also, as this is a problem that expands beyond the US, he will need to work with other governments, and not all of them have climate change as a top priority.
Anyone who had taken over from Trump would have faced a challenge, given the state of the world and the pandemic, not to mention the increasing tension and racial inequality that have divided people for a long time. However, the new president will be under a lot of pressure to make progress, particularly from those who supported Trump and contested the vote count, so he has a lot of work ahead of him.