Just over a year ago, I was watching the news as President Donald Trump, in what many legal analysts like myself believe to be a historically unprecedented act of treason, inspired crowds with his incendiary remarks at the “Stop the Steal” rally.
Many from those crowds went on to fight their way into the U.S. Capitol, one of our government’s holiest places.
My then 5-year-old daughter tugged at my oversize sweater wanting answers to the onscreen chaos. In a very measured tone, I calmly explained to her that the orange-faced man who screamed all the time and called people mean names was our outgoing president. He lost the game and had to give up his seat.
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I tried to turn the insurrection of the nation’s capital into a teachable moment.
As Republicans plot to put Trump back on the throne, progressives should cut the 46th U.S. president some slack. Compared with the last guy, Joe Biden really isn’t doing a bad job.
A real president in the White House
This might come as a surprise, but I am not a Biden fan. I hate his 1994 crime bill. I don’t like his pushback on forgiving student loans. And I am ashamed at how he pulled out of Afghanistan, taking all the keys to economic and social stability for Afghans, along with our occupying military forces.
Even so, as we inch closer to and then pass Biden’s one-year anniversary in office, I was pleasantly reminded that this year again we will have a real president in the White House.
Certainly, not every head of state will have the charisma of Barack Obama, panache of Franklin D. Roosevelt or negotiation skills of Jimmy Carter. But surely anyone is better than Trump.
And Biden is a man who has studied the science of government. He has dedicated his life to public service. He has also experienced significant personal tragedy. Just weeks before he was to be sworn in as a U.S. senator, his wife and 1-year-old daughter died in a car accident in 1972. In 2015, Biden’s son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general, died of brain cancer.
Unlike Trump, Biden is a statesman. And also unlike Trump, Biden truly cares about this country. He isn’t capitulating to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin or urging treason. He isn’t calling Mexicans terrorists between rounds of golf or banning an entire religion from traveling to the country, like Trump’s Muslim ban.
Instead, Biden is actively trying to work on bipartisan legislation that will make the everyday lives of hardworking Americans easier. Maybe that’s the best America can hope for after such a traumatic four years.
Pick the least wrong answer
Biden also faces a completely impossible task in front of him with Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia hellbent on destroying any aid that could come his constituents’ way, as well as Republican Party elements who still refer to last year’s mob of domestic terrorists as “tourists.”
I am not arguing to drop calls for student loan forgiveness, or paid leave, though. As a socialist Democrat, my policy priorities have not changed. Nevertheless, putting Biden into historical context, I’d like to remind progressives (including myself) that while he might not be our favorite, he isn’t the worst. We just had that.
It’s an underwhelming argument, I admit. But it’s also a practical one that reminds me of the wisdom contained in many of my law school exam instructions, “All of the answers are wrong. Pick the least wrong answer.”
Sometimes that is the best you can hope for: the least wrong. And right now folks, that’s Joe Biden.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is Biden a good president? He’s amazing compared with Trump.