There is a song from the 1990s that best fits the mood of the Biden victory lap post-Election Day:
To the chagrin of millions of urban and new voters desperately seeking a political turn from the direction and mode of leadership that led them to protest in the streets of Democrat-led cities throughout America in 2020, the Biden post-election pivot has turned with a focus that offers the promise of many of the very things they rued as they headed to the polls.
The need for Biden to pick a woman – then, specifically, a Black woman – on his presidential ticket? Senator Kamala Harris was a prominent figure in much of 2020, often with a fear that she would overshadow Biden in a Palin-esque fashion on both the campaign trail and in office. Now, her profile has been her relatively-quite voice since the election.
The promise not to raise taxes on millions of Americans, only those that “need to pay their fair share”? Now there is chatter of Biden’s wish to return tax rates back to the rates inherited by President George W. Bush 20 years ago, a move some believe will prompt more American businesses to offshore their organizations.
The desire to defund the police and re-direct funding to community needs has already been redirected in the primary-to-general election shift earlier this year.
The strong push by Black voters for expanded school choice, supported by millions including his former African-American boss not too long ago? The sounds of their advocacy are being quickly drowned out by the clamoring of an alphabet soup cabal of self-interest groups that actively stand against education self-determination while claiming to have the best interests of students in mind – even as their fingerprints remain firmly visible on the school-to-prison pipeline that serves as America’s glass ceiling blocking equality.
The promises of being “…the most diverse Cabinet anyone in American history…” that “…look(s) like the country…”? The pushback from civil rights groups and prominent supporters alike have already scolded Biden with a directive to “…step it up…” on inclusion.
And the scolding of President Trump concerning the “…shredding of the Constitution”? The 10th Amendment may face an interesting challenge over the course of the first 100 days of the Biden Administration should the former vice president push through a request or mandate (or perhaps some action that blurs this distinction) for mandatory mask-wearing via presidential fiat.
Much of the reason why, despite the “hope and change” promised by politicians across the nation over the years, America remains struggling with core issues concerning our culture, economy, education system, and promise of constitutional equality. Whenever the opportunity for leadership emerges, through election or some other moment in history, too often we find that people gifted the mantle of leadership shrink in the shadow of its responsibility. In the moments when tone and policy mean the most, too often we find that people revert to the broken politics and flawed character that forged them prior to the crossroads.
President Barack Obama had a moment to heal the nation and truly become a post-partisan and post-racial president starting in 2009. Instead, he reminded Republicans that he won, alienated his attorney general when the issue of race came up during the first Black History Month of his tenure, and quickly pivoted into partisan games of Gator Aid and Cornhusker Kickback(s) to pass Obamacare.
President Bill Clinton had a moment to reform the welfare system and beat back years of systemic racism through economic oppression and police profiling during the 1990s. Instead, after some economic victories, he acquiesced to key Democrats on the systematic destruction of generations of Black families with his approach to criminal justice reform before getting distracted by a bombshell scandal that took his eye off of the ball – and Osama bin Laden.
Rising politicians continuously forget proper tenets of good, visionary leadership. Among them is a simple focus: build a foundation, stack smart wins together, and then create the better future you seek. Instead, we see Biden following along a pattern of broken promises and political pivots that will soon leave many Americans – including the disenfranchised Americans that voted for Biden in 2020 – frustrated that all of the protesting, political volunteering, and hope for a watershed moment – once again begging for more. Even with all of his years of experience within government, Biden has focused more on the politics of power instead of the power of the American people – the very diversity of this nation that he claimed he would listen to, heed its advice, and serve humbly in the spirit of healing. And yet, no one can heal an infirmity of mindset, social mores, and systemic inequities without an acknowledgment that a shift from the same practices that caused the harm must be done. If the former vice president promised to usher in a better America, he is acting with the tone and tenor of the same ol’ America – one where candidates that win elections through thin margins overreach and interpret victory as wide-sweeping mandates. A new America – as promised – cannot begin with the recycling of the same stale cast of characters and their tone-deafness towards policy and innovative collaboration. A fairer America does not come about through an about-face that blocks self-determination in education, consolidates partisan rigidness, and cements two-tiered views on diversity in key leadership.
Throughout 2020 – as Democrats cleared the field for Biden to win the Democratic nomination – the former vice president ended up saying a lot and promising even more should he win the election in November. Now, it is beginning to look like he simply forgot — unintentionally or otherwise — a lot of what he said.