How Do Young People Feel About the New President?

As the Inauguration occurred in the middle of this week, a sigh of relief was collectively felt across the nation. Krissy Lewis, a sophomore at Whitney Young ‘23, says, “I was very relieved during the Inauguration. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.” Finally, the past four years of fear, stress, and embarrassment are over. Some even felt that this liberal win permits them to officially check out of the headache-inducing hellscape that is American politics. Especially after the attack on the Capitol, Joe Biden is starting off his presidency with high hopes while Trump exited his at his all time lowest approval ratings. All seems to have been restored to its natural balance now that Trump is gone. Or has it?

Joe Biden being sworn in as the 46th President

After Trump’s trash-fire of a presidency, you would assume that Biden’s entry into office would bring a breath of fresh air to Americans, especially to young people, where support was lowest for Trump. Yet, plenty of young people feel nothing at all towards the new president. “I’m not excited about him being in office,” says Justin Nwoye ‘21, a senior at Ogden, “but it might be a very, very small step towards a better America if he makes the right decisions.” This makes sense. Given all of the conflicts, corruption, civil uprisings and Covid battles, it’s understandable that political efficacy would be quite low amongst cynical young folks. 

Though he has seemingly progressive views on issues such as immigration, climate change, and education, many are concerned about his past as a politician. In 1995, when he was a senator, Biden was quoted saying, “When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.” In 1981, he voted to support an amendment that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The hotly contested 1994 Crime Bill, a piece of legislation that ravished black and brown communities with its effects still seen today, was met with strong support by them-Senator Biden. 

Many folks feel his dark political past will haunt him in his future as a president. “My white adult counterparts and white people in general are expecting me to celebrate and be grateful for the Biden/Harris win,” says Phia Morris ‘21, a senior at Whitney Young, “when nothing will systemically change for black people under a system built on my oppression.” 

Though it’s impossible to know exactly what to expect for the next four years, it’s good to have a healthy sense of cynicism. After all, we’ve seen what happens when Presidents go unchecked by their supporters. In a perfect world, Joe Biden will be the answer to all of America’s issues and will return us to the world we once knew. But, unfortunately, we live in the real world. Realistically, that world we once knew is long gone. We’ll probably have to wait a while to return to our music festivals and movie theaters, and even longer before we can sit comfortably during political discussions. All we can do at this point is hope that whoever is leading us has enough of the nation’s interest in mind to lead us safely through to the light at the end of the tunnel.