On the morning of his Inauguration, President Joe Biden tweeted “It’s a new day in America.”
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, that’s true. There’s a new leader in the White House, a new Vice President who is breaking so many barriers, and a single party controlling both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Margaret Susan Thompson is a Professor at The Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Among the courses she teaches: The Modern Presidency and U.S. Women’s History.
“President Biden served eight years as Vice President, so he was very much involved in the Obama Presidency” says Thompson. “He saw things from the inside. But I think one of the things that’s going to make a big difference is his respect for and I think a reliance on expertise in a variety of fields.”
Biden is the first President to have attended Syracuse University and live in the city of Syracuse. His Vice President – Kamala Harris – is the first female, the first African American and the first Asian American to hold the office.
Thompson believes Harris will play a big role over the next four years. The Vice President oversees the U.S. Senate and in the event of a tie vote casts the deciding vote. Because the Senate is so narrowly divided at this time, Thompson says Harris will likely have to do that many times.
As for what her students at SU are thinking, Thompson says “they look at Presidents, whether it’s the current one or previous ones, both through the lens of policy and through the lens of personality.”
She says many were skeptical about Biden’s policies but talked in classes about wanting a President who won’t divide the country and will bring a more “healthy tone” to it.
“I think Presidents are not just policymakers, they are also leaders in a more symbolic and personal sense” Thompson adds. “I think [Biden’s] empathy and compassion will be very, very important over the next few years.”