Beyond Inauguration Day: Holding Biden and Harris accountable


Mia Calzolaio

When New York erupted into cheers on November 9, 2020, I cheered along. A man screamed “freedom!” and I could not help but feel the same way; Trump was out of office, how else was I to feel? I felt joy, of course, but that joy came from a sense of relief, not from excitement. My happiness was underscored with the anticipation of disappointment. Inauguration Day has now passed, and I am forced to reckon with that anticipation. I’d first like to acknowledge that this inauguration is momentous — a tyrant has been removed from the government and President Joseph Biden is working with a Democratic-controlled Senate. 

However, I am also nervous: nervous about the fate of our country and nervous about Biden’s policies. The insurrection at the Capitol terrified me because it once again proved how deeply white supremacy is rooted in America — are maskless throngs of mostly white people waving Confederate flags and wearing Holocaust-promoting attire left untouched by police not enough evidence of this? 

Yet, Biden’s plans to enact anti-terrorism legislation are also frustrating. How, I asked myself, could he consider putting more power into the hands of law enforcement who stood nearly motionless in the face of domestic terrorism, who are by no means exempt from the roots of white supremacy, and who shamelessly abuse Black Lives Matter protestors? Like many, I am worried that the introduction of this type of legislation will simply open the door to further abuse of peaceful protestors, of the people working to actively fix the long-ignored flaws of our country.  

With this in mind, I will say that I do not believe Inauguration Day was purely a celebration. Yes, again, it is a celebration of the end of Trump’s wrath, but it is also the beginning of an undoubtedly flawed presidency. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were elected on the promise that they would help “fix” our country and fill the gaping holes Trump created — but is that enough? No. 

Take, for example, Biden’s proposed gun policy. Biden intends to ban the manufacturing and sale of assault weapons, simultaneously proposing to bring their regulation under the National Firearms Act (NFA). Americans who already own these types of guns, such as shotguns, pistols, and semiautomatic rifles, can either participate in a federal buyback program or register each of the weapons under the NFA for $200 apiece. Those who violate this policy face up to 10 years in prison and a potential $10,000 fine. This policy creates a massive disparity between the ability of upper-class people and working-class people to retain their guns. It does not matter whether anyone should own these types of firearms in the first place; it instead matters that large groups of people are stripped of their property without fair and equal policy. Furthermore, this legislation bears not a single mention of police officers, who are one of the largest perpetrators of gun-related deaths. Even if this is just a proposal, I fail to see how Biden can “fix” issues like poverty simply by stripping the lower class of their guns. And again, I become more uncertain about what the future with Biden as president will look like. 

This is not to say that Biden can not accomplish what I would like to see him do. However, it is imperative that we hold Biden and Harris to the highest standard and critique them with the greatest scrutiny. The American people, disregarding voter suppression and the Republican party, elected them to fill the presidencies. We can no longer remain content and complacent in our relief from tyranny. It is now a new presidency, and we must work equally as hard — maintaining difficult conversations, continuing to analyze the state of our democracy — to ensure those fighting and facing injustice are considered by President Biden.