It’s official; Joe Biden is about to wrap up two years of his term in office. The halfway point which starts to shape a President’s legacy because voters now have the measure of the man.
While the midterm elections didn’t turn out to be a repudiation of Biden and his policies, with Democrats faring much better than anticipated, it wasn’t exactly a wholehearted endorsement. And one could be forgiven for thinking that voter turnout in favor of Dems was as much to rebuke Republicans as to co-sign Biden’s administration.
But what does that mean for the President’s next two years?
Biden’s legacy thus far is complicated. While he’s expanded the social safety net during his time in office, he’s failed to codify issues that many voters see as vital: such as abortion rights and voting rights.
That’s not to say he’s been idle. Biden navigated a disastrous pull-out of troops from Afghanistan triggered by his predecessor, the end of the pandemic, the economic downturn and rising inflation, and several other crises that would be hard for anyone to handle. Biden has done okay – not stellar, but not terribly.
He’s made significant strides in infrastructure and clean-energy manufacturing. Biden has pushed minor advances in student loan forgiveness and pardoning thousands convicted of marijuana possession.
But many of the progressive plans he promised during the campaign remain unfinished. Biden’s approval ratings have stayed well below 50% for a year, taking a nosedive during the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan.
And Republicans have successfully painted his spending habits as being responsible for inflation (even though much of it was catalyzed under Donald Trump and multiple pandemic aid packages). In office, Biden signed a $1.9T COVID-19 relief package and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to the tune of $1T.
All in all, he’s been a relatively successful President but facing solid headwinds from economic instability and Republican mud-slinging. The question is: what do the next two years look like? Is he going to plan a 2024 run and try to walk the line of appealing to all voters? Or walk away after a single term and be willing to light bridges on fire on the way out?
Time will tell, but for now, Biden’s legacy remains complicated – and his clock is ticking.