By Don Keelan
Since Jan. 20, 2021, I have stayed away from writing about Washington and the new political landscape. There has been plenty of commentary fodder here in Vermont, especially from Burlington.
Nonetheless, waiting 10 months to comment on what transpired is a reasonable period to sit back and just observe. So far, what I have seen is not what was expected.
For starters, the bedrock premise of the Biden administration was to unite the country as well as our allies. The Democrats saw this in Biden, which is the principal reason they rejected the divisiveness permeating presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign. Unfortunately, we are now a more divided country, and our allies are even more suspicious of our support.
One hour after President Biden took office, he issued an executive order closing down a critical oil pipeline. Soon after that, he gave orders to cease land leases for oil development on federal lands. Almost overnight, the country went from the world’s leading oil and gas producer to one dependent on foreign oil: a direct result is a rise in Arlington’s Stewarts’ gasoline prices from $2.19 a gallon last January to $4.41 today. Moreover, thousands of oil and gas workers are out of work, so much for bringing the oil industry workers “under the tent.”
Secondly, Americans living along the southern border hoped to have their anxiety eliminated with the institution of a new immigration policy. It never materialized. If anything, border issues have worsened. Witnessing 15,000 Haitians camping under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, along with hundreds of thousands of others crossing the border, does very little to relieve anxiety.
If anyone is under the illusion that the border will get better, forget it. The Justice Department talks about $450,000 settlement payments (possibly up to a million dollars per family) for children who crossed the border illegally in 2018 and were separated from their parents. This financial settlement could incentivize tens of thousands more to dash to the border. The millions of citizens in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California who supported the Biden promise must feel betrayed.
And speaking about being betrayed, our UK, French, German and other allies have still not recovered from the August debacle in Afghanistan when the US, under cover of darkness, pulled its troops out of the country without ever informing our allies. Not exactly rebuilding, as promised, our relationships fractured by Biden’s predecessor.
Nor did it help to seriously alienate the French by going behind their back and making a submarine deal with Australia. France will lose out on a $60 billion transaction. Even Mr. Biden called his approach “clumsy.”
The biggest disappointment in ending the country’s divisiveness is down the street from the White House. Congress needs help, and with President Biden’s 40 plus years working there, surely, he would bring us together and quickly. Not the case. Congress is even more divided. Furthermore, the President’s own party has now created so much dissension, led by Senator Sanders, that even Mr. Biden must feel he promised too much.
The Thursday before his recent European trip, Mr. Biden went to his Democratic party members at the Capitol to beg them for the legislation he needed to convince the allies that he was in command. He received nothing. This omission was not lost on Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping; they didn’t bother to travel to Italy and Scotland’s G-20 or Climate summits.
As if the country hasn’t seen enough division, the Democratic Party is split. And we still have climate control mandates, inflation, and the Jan. 4, 2022 vaccine mandate. So where is the unification we were promised this time last year?
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.