It’s felt like 70 days, but it’s been more than a year since Joe Biden took the reins from an unwilling Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. Biden’s first year in office was an eventful one that saw mass vaccination against a global pandemic, a withdrawal from Afghanistan, congressional drama and a changing economy. He did the best he could, but it isn’t a year any of us would want to repeat.

Biden got to work immediately, signing a total of 17 executive orders on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris climate accord, repealing the ban on travel from some majority-Muslim countries and making several orders to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. He also spent a good part of his first few months in office rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. He threw around a goal of having 70 percent of American adults receive one dose of the vaccine by July 4. Biden, however, missed this goal, as according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 67 percent of adult Americans had received at least one dose of the vaccine by his self-imposed deadline. Unfortunately for Biden and for the country, vaccinations began to stall in the summer, as the vaccine became incredibly politicized and the subject of so much false information. Biden has tried to combat the stagnation by signing as many executive orders as possible to require vaccinations or regular testing in as many places as possible. He recently ordered at-home COVID-19 tests for American families and has announced plans to make and distribute free high-quality masks to all Americans.

While the pandemic has taken up most of the president’s first year in office, it definitely was not the only international problem he had to worry about. In August, the United States completed its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Despite being advised not to by some top generals and officials, Biden went through with the withdrawal deal Trump arranged with the Taliban in 2020. As the U.S. left Afghanistan, the Taliban made quick work capturing provincial capitals, eventually seizing the country’s capital, Kabul, and taking control of the country before the withdrawal was even complete. Many saw the withdrawal as a complete failure, and Biden’s popularity quickly plummeted. According to news website FiveThirtyEight, 53 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s presidency one year ago compared to the 42.2 percent of Americans who approve of Biden today.

Another reason for the president’s low approval rating could be that crucial legislation he promised would pass in his first year has gone nowhere. His “Build Back Better” bill, which was a huge focus of his campaign, hasn’t been passed in the Senate and is in danger of not passing at all. Biden has also yet to secure a voting rights bill needed to battle the rise in voting restrictions throughout the country, despite promising to do so immediately. Biden’s failure to pass these bills could cost him both houses of Congress in November, ultimately making it almost impossible to pass any major legislation for the rest of his term. While he hasn’t been able to sign these bills into law, he has signed other significant pieces of legislation, such as the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

The country is still struggling in many ways, but the economy is better now than it was a year ago. According to CBS News, 6.4 million jobs have been added in the last year, and the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9 percent compared to 6.3 percent one year ago. The economy grew an estimated 7 percent in the final months of the year, and hourly wages in December were 4.7 percent higher than they were a year ago. However, inflation also rose by 7 percent in 12 months, the largest annual increase in nearly four decades.

While many may disapprove of the job Biden is doing, I actually have a lot of respect for him. Politics aside, he inherited an incredibly fragile, divided and broken country and had to get to work immediately. The presidency is by far one of the most stressful jobs in the world, and the fact that this 79-year-old man is putting his health on the line to serve this country really does deserve a lot of respect. I’ll admit I was expecting much more out of Biden in his first year, but I also understand he has to work with the cards he was dealt.

While I respect the job he is doing so far, I would not vote for Biden if he runs for reelection. He is just way too old and divisive. While he might be doing a better job of working to unite the country than his predecessor, Biden still isn’t someone those from both sides of the aisle can unite around. I hope in the next two years, Biden keeps working to heal this country so both sides can hopefully unite around him and one day work together again.

Ian Hernandez-Rojas is a student at The MASTERS Program. Contact him at

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