[바이든 1년] ① I cried for the restoration of the American soul… A thorny road in internal and external difficulties

Infectious pandemic and economic downturn, some success… Focus on recovering US leadership

Ankle again due to Corona Re-pandemic and Inflation… ‘Political polarization’, an obstacle to integration

The helpless decline in approval ratings… Trump hints at re-challenge for presidency

Biden takes the oath of office on January 20, last year.

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[※편집자주 = 조 바이든 미국 대통령이 오는 20일(미 동부시간)로 취임 1주년을 맞이합니다. 연합뉴스는 바이든 행정부 출범 1주년을 맞아 내치와 외교정책의 성과를 짚어보고 한반도관계를 뒤돌아보는 기획 기사와 전문가 인터뷰를 송고합니다.]

(Washington = Yonhap News) Correspondent Ryu Ji-bok = President Joe Biden, who took office with the banner of restoring the soul of the United States, took over the presidency amid the difficult circumstances of domestic and foreign exchange.

At that time, the United States was going through a ‘triple crisis’, such as the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) pandemic, a severe economic recession, and division due to racial conflict.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said that Biden’s inauguration was similar to Franklin Roosevelt’s economic depression in the 1930s and Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War in the 1860s combined.

Externally, the prior task was to clean up the negative legacy left by former President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’.

President Biden announced that he would begin foreign policy with the abolition of Trump-style America first, in response to the perception that a one-way foreign policy had weakened traditional alliances and undermined America’s prestige.

Biden’s first year was a success.

Unlike former President Trump, who seemed to be downplaying the quarantine policy, he took the initiative and made an all-out effort to expand vaccination, and the COVID-19 situation seemed to subside.

In addition, as the number of employed people increased by more than 5 million, the unemployment rate in December last year fell to 3.9%, the lowest level since Corona 19, and the trend of economic recovery continued.

Diplomatically, it worked hard to restore relations with the Indo-Pacific region, including Korea and Japan, and with the traditional European allies.

On the first day of his inauguration, ex-President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) order to return were symbolic steps to put into practice the slogan ‘The United States is back’ to the international community.

On the other hand, with China and Russia, which are traditional rivals of the United States, continuing clashes in all directions including human rights and security, the United States is trying to increase its influence by building an anti-China and anti-Russian front.

It can be said that Biden’s year was a very different leadership from former President Trump, focusing on integration and reconstruction internally and externally restoring US leadership in the international community.

The Bidens entered the White House on January 20 last year.
The Bidens entered the White House on January 20 last year.

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But President Biden’s approval ratings are not so serious that they broke the record lows in recent opinion polls.

538, a media specializing in political analysis, analyzed that President Biden’s approval rating for his first year in office was the second lowest after former President Trump since then President Harry Truman in 1945.

His approval rating, which was around 50% at the beginning of his inauguration, started to fall in line with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in August of last year, and recently dropped to 33%, with disastrous results.

At that time, the rebels gave up the Afghan government back to the Taliban and showed the disastrous appearance of US troops withdrawing as if they were being driven out, which caused public backlash, but the interpretation that it was the result of a combination of other factors prevailed.

Corona 19, which once seemed to subside, is spreading rapidly enough to break the record for the highest number of confirmed cases in recent years due to the spread of Omicron mutation. The vaccination rate relative to the population is also stagnant at the low 60% level due to the large number of people who refuse to be vaccinated.

Although the employment index has improved, inflation is so severe that it recorded the highest inflation rate in 40 years as huge amounts of money were released into the market due to stimulus measures after the COVID-19 crisis.

Externally, the conflict between China and Russia only escalated, and no clear solution was found. The return of the nuclear deal with Iran has been negotiating for a long time, and North Korea is constantly emphasizing a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, but has failed to initiate dialogue on denuclearization.

Some point out that President Biden, who uses a more cautious approach and diplomatic rhetoric compared to former President Trump, who was not shy about making hard-line remarks, may be seen as a ‘weak president’ in the eyes of the American people.

Americans shopping at supermarkets amid high inflation
Americans shopping at supermarkets amid high inflation

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However, there are also views that President Biden’s struggles stem from a more fundamental cause of division in the United States.

As the political polarization among the supporters is so severe, it has become much more difficult to gather public opinion centered on President Biden than in the past.

For example, a Quinnipiac University poll on the 7th-10th showed that 75% of Democratic supporters supported President Biden. On the other hand, Republican supporters were only 2% positive and 95% disapproved.

Tim Marloy, a polling analyst at the university, said that Biden’s approval ratings continued to decline, but that’s been the case with other presidents as well.

It is also observed that Trump’s involvement in real politics while showing off his strong presence, such as announcing his intention to run for president again in 2024 after leaving office, has also had an impact.

Ex-President Trump is showing his strength to the point where he is the overwhelming majority of Republican supporters for the next presidential election in various opinion polls.

In such a situation, President Biden’s ‘anti-Trump’ line may increase antipathy among Republican supporters and act as an obstacle to expanding the base of his policy line.

Trump speaking at a rally in Iowa last October
Trump speaking at a rally in Iowa last October

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It means that President Biden has not yet removed the ‘Trump shadow’, and it is interpreted that this was a factor in his speech to the public on the first anniversary of the 1/6 congressional riots, where he broke out of restraint and attacked former President Trump.

A Morning Consult poll last month found that 69% of Republican supporters said they wanted Trump to run again. That’s higher than 60% of Democrats’ supporters say they want Biden to run for re-election.

In a recent analysis by Reuters, President Biden’s approval rating has been falling even among the nonpartisans, and he is “entering his second year in office with two unfinished goals: to end Trumpism and to unite a polarized country.” highly rated

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