On July 21, 2016, Donald Trump delivered his Republican nomination acceptance speech to a hopeful and excited crowd. Smirking, Trump claimed, “I alone can fix it!” to nods of approval and thunderous applause. The oddly coiffed wrecking ball then spent the next four years of his failed single term breaking everything, including the record for most impeached President of the United States.
President Joe Biden is of a different mindset. Although he is bright, empathetic, and highly competent, Biden recognizes the value of input from others, even people with differing points of view. Thanks in large part to Biden’s openness to listen, his first 100 days have proven to be a success as he steers a divided nation forward after four long Trump years.
Unlike the former guy, who was too narcissistic to discuss issues with his own former guys, Biden understands he has nothing to lose by talking with his predecessors, including learning from their mistakes. Earlier this year, Biden told CNN that speaking to former Presidents is helpful for a job that can get overwhelming. On Thursday, CNN detailed many examples of Biden reaching out to predecessors over his first 100 days, even to discuss withdrawing troops from Afghanistan with George W. Bush.
Biden, who has long been considered an institutionalist and a moderate Democrat, is also listening to the progressive wing of the party. According to more than 20 progressive lawmakers, strategists and activists who spoke to NBC News, Biden’s first 100 days have been earning high marks from progressives who were “skeptical to outright antagonistic about his candidacy.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran to the left of Biden in the primaries last year, praised Biden for the fact he understands that we must “develop policies where people see that government can work for them.” Rep. Ilhan Omar noted that it’s “clear” progressives “have a negotiating partner in the White House.” Rep. Jamaal Bowman also called Biden “incredibly responsive to the progressive movement,” adding that White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told progressive House members to “keep pushing us” and “keep us honest.”
The President of the United States cannot be all things to all people, and we shouldn’t want someone who pretends to be. However, President Biden is a leader intent on listening and learning. As Biden reminded us at the end of his address to Congress this week, “We’re the United States of America… We can do whatever we set our minds to do—if we do it together.”