Politics class: Joe Biden’s quietly revolutionary first 100 days
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.
Edexcel: Component 3A: 3.3 The presidency
AQA: Component 2: 220.127.116.11 The executive branch of government: President
Background: what you need to know
This article by the FT’s US national editor, Edward Luce, is an evaluation of the first two months of Joe Biden’s presidency. 100 days has traditionally been the timespan for judging the initial impact of a new administration, ever since President Franklin Roosevelt’s hyperactive period in 1933 initiating the New Deal. But Luce begins by pointing out that it took only 50 days for President Biden to achieve his pledge to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office, reversing President Trump’s unerring tendency to over-promise and under- deliver.
He goes on to describe Biden’s successful opening spell as “the most accident-free of any US president in recent memory”, which he attributes to three factors: luck, experience and lack of ego. He emphasises that, after 44 years as senator and vice-president, Biden comes to the top job with longer experience than any modern president. But it is also crucial to Biden’s success that many of his cabinet picks, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chief of Staff Ron Klain, are also hugely experienced and that Biden is willing to delegate day-to-day decisions to them.
It is hard to argue with Luce’s assessment that all this represents “a quiet sea change in the tone of US politics”.
Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:
Answer one of these questions, depending on which exam board specification you are studying:
Question in the style of Edexcel Politics A-level: Paper 3
Evaluate the view that the flexibility of the US Constitution allows the presidency to be what the incumbent makes of it. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. (30 marks)
Question in the style of AQA Politics A-level: Paper 2
Explain and analyse three ways in which Joe Biden’s presidency is in sharp contrast with that of Donald Trump. (9 marks)