From ‘Sleepy Joe’ to Biden the Revolutionary

We thought we’d see a frail old man arriving at the White House, embodying America in decline. But the Democratic president is surprising us all, so much so that he is already being compared to transformational presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

In November we rightfully condemned America’s inability to equip itself with a young president. They had just elected an almost octogenarian to the White House, who had been on America’s political scene for more than 40 years. But Joe Biden has surprised us all, even in his first 100 days. His recently announced investment plan for over $2 trillion in jobs and infrastructure is historic. Alongside the COVID-19 recovery plan of $1.9 trillion, it makes for a revolution. Free from the reservations that have often constrained previous presidents, Biden has nothing to lose. He’s not even sure he wants a second term. Ahead of the often fateful deadline of midterm elections in November 2022, he is making the most of an historic opportunity to transform the country, currently deep in a social and democratic crisis.

The proposed investment plan aims to upgrade the pitiful infrastructure already rotting America’s prosperity. It also has the potential to launch the United States into a future where technology and renewable energy are the drivers of a dynamic, sustainable economy, providing long-term jobs. And there is also geopolitical capital at stake in Washington. Lagging behind China in various sectors, America is anxious about the prospect of losing its place as the No. 1 global power, and needs reviving.

The transformation is such that some have already tried to compare Biden to other Democrats such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal, or Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society. It’s a far cry from Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution that, by demonizing the state, destroyed America’s social contract, resulting in dangerous levels of inequality. Trumpism was one of the consequences. Biden’s program is a complete restoration of the federal government’s power as a major actor for economic, social and technological recovery.

Socially, Biden’s plans, attuned to an unsettled public opinion, are every bit as ambitious as LBJ’s in the fight against poverty. The gamble is historic, although not without risk, as the battle for Congress’ approval will be fierce, faced with a Republican Party that long ago lost sight of the public interest. Biden doesn’t have FDR’s or LBJ’s level of support on the Hill. Some economists fear an overheated economy or a return to inflation. But “Sleepy Joe” will persist whatever the cost, reviving America’s bold spirit and much-famed ability to bounce back.

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