How Normal is Normal? Biden’s Executive Orders Establish a New Precedent in his First 100 Days

The only surprise in Biden’s nomination as the 2020 Democratic forerunner was his ability to address and appease an increasingly liberal voter base. His campaign advertised a return to normalcy, almost sounding conservative by idolizing the past. 

President Biden signed 17 executive orders during his first two days in office, outpacing Obama who issued two and Trump who issued one. He also issued three proclamations, compared to both Trump and Obama releasing one. Senator Rubio questioned his centrist stance, accusing the president of “governing like someone from the far-left.” In accounting for records dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Biden has signed more executive orders in the first two days of holding office than any other president. 

In a short video posted to Twitter, Rubio criticized the president for issuing “more executive fiats than anyone in such a short period of time” and misleading nonpartisan voters. However, his use of the word “fiat” insinuates a sweeping, long term type of legislation that is not consistent with the president’s proposals. 10 executive actions and one memorandum addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, a specific issue affecting the entire country. Another required cabinet appointees to take an ethics pledge and the rest revoked several Trump-era policies.

Biden’s growing familiarity with his executive power may have caught some off-guard, but others believe the reaction to be disproportionate. Daniel Gitterman, a public policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believes that bipartisan criticism is natural for a new president, and Biden is living up to his proposed ‘return to normalcy.’ “When it’s the president of the opposite party, they call it executive fiat, and when it’s the president of the same party, they call it bold action,” Gitterman commented

Since his swearing-in on Jan 30, President Biden has issued 32 executive orders. Trump signed an average of 55 executive orders per year, substantially more than former presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush. Bipartisan criticism is a natural symptom of an incoming president and Biden should expect Republican contest to continue as long as he remains active in policy-making. Biden is adhering to his promise of a return to normalcy on his terms. Addressing COVID-19 calls for unprecedented action to ensure rising death counts don’t become the new normal. However, I don’t think Biden will use his executive powers meagerly after the pandemic. While many of his executive orders have been met with little resistance, a few received backlash, including his Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation that allows transgender athletes to compete in sports. 

Biden’s definition of normal may not align with that of moderates or conservatives, but his strides to combat the pandemic will be bipartisanly appreciated if successful.