Barack Obama’s legacy looms awkwardly over Joe Biden. Of course, he cannot disavow, or even really criticize, the administration he helped to lead for eight years. But, by its end, the nation was in such a state that it elected Donald Trump as President — a catastrophe, in Biden’s view. Many on the left as well as on the right now believe that the economic recovery from the Great Recession was botched.
Many on the left as well as on the right disdain the Obamacare-governed healthcare system and demand an overhaul.
The Black Lives Matter movement, we might recall, was born in the Obama years— the number of people shot dead by police each year hasn’t changed significantly since.
Biden’s acceptance speech struggled with the tension. On one hand, he made a point of pausing early to thank Obama. “You were a great president,” he said. But this came just after speaking of “all the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity,” the Obama years presumably included. And it came just after lamenting that “more than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year,” the sort of thing a successful health care overhaul might ideally prevent.
The question for the Biden campaign and a Biden administration is: what will be different?