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Zirpoli: Competent, professional and empathetic, Biden is in stark contrast to his predecessor | COMMENTARY

President Joe Biden has been in office for seven weeks. How is he doing? The most frequent response I hear is that Biden has lowered our nation’s collective anxiety and restored competency to our federal government.

Americans are sleeping better these days and for good reason. We have a president who takes the pandemic seriously. He doesn’t lie to us about it magically going away or promote dangerous treatments. He models good practices like masking and social distancing which reduce the spread. It’s called leadership.

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In Biden’s first 30 days, 50 million vaccines were administered at a rate of 1.7 million per day. Today, that daily rate has increased to almost three million according to the CDC. He convinced one pharmaceutical company, Merck, to work with a second pharmaceutical company to mass-produce the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine so that there would be enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of May. According to fivethirtyeight.com, 60% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance in addressing the pandemic.

It seems the worst Biden critics can come up with is that Biden is too nice. Indeed, the president isn’t insulting his fellow Americans or our allies. While he may be nice, unlike his predecessor, he isn’t a fool exchanging love letters with dictators. He isn’t calling the American free press “the enemy of the people,” or our dead soldiers “losers.” Nor is he defending the actions of white supremacists or encouraging domestic terrorists to overturn elections. These are low standards of conduct for a president, for sure, yet this is where we were a couple of months ago.

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In his first full month in office (February), 379,000 new jobs were created according to the Labor Department. This follows a net negative job growth during the Trump administration — the first since President Herbert Hoover left office in 1933 during the Great Depression.

As stated by Ezra Klein writing for The New York Times, Trump’s focus was getting himself attention, instead of helping ordinary Americans. “Biden wants legislation, not attention.” The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, supported by a majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, includes policies that will “cut child poverty by 50 percent” according to Klein. All Republicans in Congress voted against the bill. Yet, a few years ago, they all voted to approve an equally costly tax cut that mostly benefited the rich. Biden is building the economy from the bottom-up — investing in ordinary Americans. Republicans continue to support their failed policies of trickle-down economics.

Professionalism has returned to the federal government. The Justice Department protects the American people, not the president and his friends. Our secretary of education believes in public education and isn’t trying to transfer public funds to her favorite private schools. Our secretary of state believes in diplomacy and is trying to rebuild bridges with our allies and restore American leadership on the world stage.

Biden wants to expand the Affordable Care Act so more Americans can afford health care. He wants to expand educational opportunities for our children, not cut college scholarships and attack teachers. He respects our nation’s scientists and listens to their advice. He doesn’t insult them and he doesn’t need to be the smartest person in the room. He is respectful of others. These are the qualities of a leader with self-confidence.

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Biden has empathy for the ordinary American who is unemployed or uninsured. He cares about the over 527,000 Americans killed by COVID-19. You can see his concern and you can hear it in his voice.

Experience matters. Republicans like to make fun of Biden’s age and, perhaps, that is why he secured more votes from Americans over 65-years of age than other recent Democratic presidential candidates. But his age and experience are what attracted many Americans to his candidacy. People understood that we would need someone who could quickly repair the damage from the previous administration. There was no time for a newcomer to learn on the job and he has used his experience to our benefit.

Besides, Biden is not concerned about looking old. He doesn’t spend an hour a day fixing his hair. He isn’t insecure about wearing a mask or concerned about his masculinity. He doesn’t brag about himself. Strong leaders brag about their team members.

Biden is not perfect and he will make mistakes. But the majority of Americans believe he cares about them and that he is trying to solve some of our most pressing problems. After the chaos of Trump, most Americans are enjoying a little “nice” from an old guy trying to help us, not himself.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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