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Is Joe Biden Laying The Groundwork For Another Trump?

(MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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President Joe Biden has pledged to try and unify the country after a divisive four years under former President Donald Trump, but his actions thus far could create the same sentiment that led to Trump upending the political establishment and becoming president. 

Biden seems to be establishing many of the same patterns that developed during the eight years of the Obama administration. His leading policy proposals, treatment by the media and personnel choices signal a “return to normalcy” that could reignite the anti-establishment fervor on the right.

The incoming president has called for unity, and there are a number of relevant policy proposals with which he could have started his tenure that a bipartisan coalition of Americans could get behind. A good COVID-19 stimulus package, infrastructure investment or working to fast-track vaccine distribution and school reopening are all widely supported goals early in the administration. 

Biden is planning to address COVID-19, but in his stimulus proposal he included inflammatory provisions like a $15 federal minimum wage. Critics suggest such an increase from the current federal minimum of $7.25 per hour could wreak havoc on rural and small-town America, which is largely concentrated in red states. Those are the very same people to whom Biden claims to be extending an olive branch after defeating Trump. 

An additional blow to the jobs front could come with the axing of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline was authorized to be completed by Trump, and the process would bring thousands of energy jobs to middle America. Biden is instead rescinding approval, citing environmental concerns. (RELATED: Is The Keystone XL Pipeline Actually Bad For The Environment?)

Arguably the biggest non-coronavirus-related policies revealed to-date by the Biden team are his plans for immigration. In addition to reversing Trump’s executive orders to declare a national emergency at the border and bar travel from certain countries deemed to be dangerous, Biden is proposing a wide-ranging immigration bill almost immediately after taking office. 

Biden’s legislative proposal reportedly includes a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country, as well as a quicker pathway for those here legally with temporary protected status or as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The moves are expected to upset immigration hardliners who were drawn to Trump’s strong anti-immigration stances. 

Social conservatives will also have something to complain about early, as Biden is reportedly lifting Trump’s ban on transgender service in the military. He also appointed a transgender woman to a high-level health and human services position, despite her having a questionable record running Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 response. 

Much of the Republican coalition, which is splintered following the messy end of the Trump era, could be able to reunite simply in opposition to these early Biden policy priorities.  

Also frustrating for the right is Biden’s soft treatment from the media, reminiscent of the Obama era. Biden’s cabinet appointees were frequently given glowing reviews by corporate media, which repeatedly highlighted the “diversity” and “historic” nature of his choices. (RELATED: Journalists Celebrate The End Of Trump’s Presidency, Shower Joe Biden With Praise)

During the 46th president’s inauguration, journalists at legacy media outlets fawned over the proceedings and seemed gleeful at the prospect of a shift from Trump to Biden. “There’s an air of cleansing about today,” said CNN’s John King

A factor in Trump’s rise to popularity within the Republican Party — and an important part of his legacy — was his opposition to much of the media. From arguments with reporters to chants of “fake news,” a substantial segment of conservatives felt vindicated by a representative that would call out corporate media companies and reporters.

The personnel decisions of the Biden administration make it appear eerily similar to the Obama administration as well. A substantial number of Biden’s cabinet appointees are Obama alums, and Biden has surrounded himself with few, if any, outsiders as key advisers. Instead, he’s opted to go with familiar faces like former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomat Susan Rice

Another one of Trump’s effective messaging tools was his promise to “drain the swamp.” Regardless of how much he stuck to that while in office, it is undeniable that voters’ desire to see an outsider take control of the government was a key factor in his 2016 defeat of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and numerous establishment Republican primary candidates. 

While Trump included some political outsiders such as former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson as his Housing and Urban Development secretary, engineer and energy executive Rex Tillerson at secretary of state and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly as chief of staff, Biden is doing no such thing. Virtually all of his key advisers possess strong traditional credentials and meaningful political experience. (RELATED: Trump Revokes His Own ‘Drain The Swamp’ Executive Order That Banned Some Lobbying)

The more Biden’s administration mirrors former President Barack Obama’s, the more it may win over liberals, Democratic voters and the media. However, eight years of Obama are what directly preceded Trump — and Trump is still quite popular in the Republican Party, even after his loss.