“Madam Vice President,” Joe Biden said as he introduced Kamala Harris during his first address to a joint session of the United States Congress on Wednesday. “No president has ever said those words from this podium. No President! And it’s about time.” Biden’s words acknowledged his running mate’s contributions in the success his administration has achieved as he approached the arbitrary but significant 100-day milestone in his presidency.
Biden’s taking over of the White House from Donald Trump was seen as a new dawn by many, representing a seismic change in Washington from the latter’s loud, impulsive and at times unabashed style of governance.
Biden promised swift and decisive action to tackle some of America’s most pressing issues – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economy, healthcare, race, immigration among others – as well as restoring the US’ foreign relations and engaging global issues such as climate change.
And the 78-year-old has come a long way towards realising many of those targets, signing off on a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and more executive orders in the same time frame than his three predecessors.
The results of these actions have been apparent, over 200 million vaccine shots have been administered, double Biden’s initial target for the first 100 days, the economy recovering, joblessness hitting pandemic lows and life returning to a semblance of normalcy with the kids being allowed to attend schools in person.
Americans are upbeat about their new President, with 53% of them approving his job performance so far, particularly his response to the pandemic and economy, with much of that success coming down to his second-in-command.
Being a woman, let alone a woman of colour and that too with South Asian origins, in her position is a historic feat never achieved before, allowing her to connect with the people in a way no one ever has. The former California Senator has struck the right notes in addressing racism, conveying heartfelt messages after Derek Chauvin’s conviction and the spa shootings in Atlanta.
Her approval is the same as Biden’s - 53% - with fewer people disapproving of her performance so far - 37% - as her boss - 43%, according to the LA Times.
She has also taken on one of the administration’s most challenging tasks, immigration from Mexico and Central America. She has chosen to focus on issues that were her priorities over the course of her career, such as women and children-centric policies, relief for small businesses, according to the Associate Press.
She has been one of the most prominent advocates for Biden’s agenda, appearing in most of his major announcements and forging a relationship that many aides say is closer than most presidents share with their No. 2s.
With the pandemic limiting their travel, Harris spends more time with Biden that she would have otherwise, leaving a greater imprint on decision-making. Aides say she was behind Biden’s “strategy of selling it, both to the American people and the Hill”.
While the first 100 days have been pretty much along the lines of expectation, the administration has a long way to go. Harris’ unique identity makes her susceptible to expectations, with Black and Asian-American communities wanting more from the people they helped get to the White House with their votes.
The pressure on Biden and Harris to deliver is just starting, but one can look at the progress made in their first 100 days and foresee a historic presidency.