More than a year has passed since President Joe Biden took over the White House. Since then, his presidency has been inauspicious. It isn’t merely that his inauguration took place just two weeks after a mob of right-wing extremists stormed the Capitol Building. Biden has had to contend with big problems and big promises made in the past. Many of these are now demanding results.

Who’s to Blame?

Being President of the United States is a thankless task. Especially in the face of extreme hyperpolarisation and partisanship that blocks any kind of progress. But Biden’s accomplishments so far, such as rolling out vaccines and relief funds, still fall short of expectations.

Is Congress to blame for the lackadaisical start or is it Biden? The answer is likely somewhere in the middle, but time is running out for the President who only has two years left to prove his worth.

This year, Biden faces a litany of issues both at home and abroad. There is the constantly mutating virus that has become endemic; the passing of his exorbitant social spending bill; the climate change alert siren; and most recently, escalating tensions with Russia and China. On top of this, he also faces the uphill battle of reinstating democracy and order in the country amidst growing social divisions aggravated by the pandemic.

Realistically, the internal workings of Congress make all of the above issues extremely difficult to shift or resolve. For Biden, a ‘Senate man’ supposedly adept at navigating the dog-eat-dog world that is Washington, its mechanism has become the very thing working against him.

A Complicated System

America’s political system has been designed in a way that requires the consensus of both chambers of Congress for actionable change. This can be a long, arduous process, and is the reason why it took the last two presidents several years to pass their most important laws.

Luckily, the Democratic Party hold both the Senate and House of Representatives. But Biden’s agenda to bring higher taxes for the rich and better healthcare under the Build Back Better plan has been deadlocked in the Senate. By Democrats themselves.

The Republican Party have naturally done everything in the past to block all kinds of fundamental, needed change. Ironically, according to Bernie Sanders, Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema are now doing their work for them by ‘sabotaging‘ the Democrats’ agenda in withholding votes.

Unsurprisingly, Americans are losing faith in Biden’s administration. His first-year approval rating stands at 48.9 per cent — not as bad as Trump’s 38.4 per cent in 2018, but only marginally better than Clinton’s 49.3 per cent in 1994.

When it comes to enacting change, part of the problem lies with the American Constitution. Filibustering is another obstacle. A small minority of 41-60 Senate members can easily prevent a bill from being voted on according to the rule that 60 votes are required to stop debate on a bill.

Biden has also inherited a country long afflicted with discord and disunity. The GOP (Republican Party) continues to dispute the 2020 election result and Congress is not what it used to be.

‘It is so dramatically different from the place I worked’, says Ira Shapiro, a Senate staffer from 1975 to 1987 and author of Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?

Holding Back Strategically?

With the November midterms approaching, it’s worth noting that Biden may be strategically holding back from implementing his agenda too soon. Not wishing to repeat the fate of Obama and Trump, who both lost their hold of one chamber shortly after passing major legislation and subsequently any hope of legislating, Biden may just be biding his time.

However small it might seem, the Biden administration has made some progress. The American Rescue Plan was enacted, providing unemployment benefits of up to $1400 as well as billions of dollars in local government and healthcare funding. Republican votes were also won for a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.

Biden’s presidency should not be judged on his inability to bring sweeping changes. With Congress being obstinate and congressional majorities on a razor-thin edge, there is only so much he can do. We should instead judge his competency on matters that are within his sphere of control.

For instance, the lack of consensus regarding Covid-19 strategy. The White House has concentrated on pushing out vaccines despite advisors having pressed on the urgency of purchasing more rapid tests. Americans are also confused on important issues such as mask mandates and booster shots, with authorities providing conflicting statements.

Biden has arguably done the maximum to circumvent gridlocks and navigate the warring factions in Washington. But the reality is that his shortcomings as a president are still his to bear, despite and because of such dysfunctional politics.

Joseph Biden’s presidency is looking more transitory by the day, especially given his advancing age. A 2021 Harris Poll reveals that 58 per cent believe he is too old to run the country. If Biden’s year in the White House has convinced some that he’s just another puppet president, this arguably says more about the current state of American politics than his personal limitations.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.