Riverside’s Young Democrats club has a lot to say about President Biden’s 100-Day Plan. The Young Democrats hold virtual meetings every Friday to discuss the latest happenings in the world of politics.
Some of the issues included in the 100-Day Plan that resonate the most with the group are controlling the spread of covid-19, increasing the $15 minimum wage, creating a police oversight commission, creating a task force for refugees, and tightening environmental regulations.
“There’s such a polar opposite between what Trump was doing and what he [Biden] is doing that it seems like it’s just undoing all the damage, in our opinion, that’s been done,” said club advisor Christopher Meglin.
“It’s very ambitious but that’s the point of a plan,” said Riverside junior and Young Democrats treasurer Leiko Takahashi. “He doesn’t have to execute all these things as long as he’s willing to at least try.”
Junior Eva Egyghy, the club’s vice president, thinks it’s the right time for Biden to think big.
“If there’s any time to do something as ambitious as this, it’s now, considering Democrats have the House, the Senate, and the presidency,” she said. “It’s not likely that Democrats will get a chance like this again. I say go full steam ahead!”
Biden has made getting the pandemic under control one of his main priorities during his first 100 days. This includes requiring masks on federal property, administering 100 million vaccine shots, and providing enough supplies for the majority of schools to reopen.
“I feel bad saying one thing is more important than the other but the vaccine is just such a pressing issue,” said junior Lily Brigman, the Young Democrats secretary. “People are dying,”
Brigman believes that reopening the majority of schools is not realistic as it requires a great deal of money and safety procedures. She is worried that teacher unions may refuse to go back especially if safety improvements such as vaccinations are not in place.
Egeghy argued that the Republican Party has politicized many of the coronavirus issues that President Biden included in his plan. For example, she believes that Former President Donald Trump politicized mask-wearing. However, she believes that the Democratic Party is guilty of politicizing the pandemic, as well.
“I think you could say the same thing about Democrats with school reopenings,” she said. “This whole time it’s been where Republicans want everything opened up and Democrats want no schools opened up, so even when we’re seeing data about how harmful virtual school is, especially for vulnerable students, like EC students and lower-income students, there’s no room to hear the arguments about why we should look at opening schools because there’s a fear that you’ll be seen as right-wing.”
Junior Millie Anderson, the club president, views the push to reopen schools as a more complicated issue than people make it out to be. Besides the health aspect, she is concerned with the spike in suicide rates and does not believe that students are receiving enough mental and emotional support during this time.
“I think trying to find the balance between physical health and mental health and not putting too much importance on one more than the other has been missed,” said Anderson.
$15 Minimum Wage
Another aspect of President Biden’s 100-Day Plan is doubling the current national minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Biden needs to work harder to push the $15 minimum wage issue,” said Egeghy. “He says he’s in support of it but he’s not really doing anything behind the scenes to make sure that it gets pushed through.”
She wants to see an increase in the national minimum wage because she believes the current $7.25 minimum wage is not liveable for anyone. Egeghy said that if President Biden receives heavy pushback from more moderate democrats, he could at least push for $10-12.
Meglin, however, isn’t so sure. “I don’t think the minimum wage is a one size fits all problem that we can assign to every single state in this country,” he said.
Instead, Meglin thinks President Biden should consider an approach where the minimum wage is based on the income of the area, for example.
Police Oversight Commission
In response to Black Lives Matter protests last summer, President Biden has plans to reimagine policing by creating a national police oversight commission to fight institutional racism. This commission would include de-escalation training and partnering with mental health professionals to avoid unnecessary force.
“There’s a lot of push for massive structural changes to the policing system but Joe Biden has made it clear since the summer that he was going to err on the side of reform,” said Egeghy. “Even though he’s not quite as strongly positioned as some people might like him to be, I appreciate that he’s keeping himself accountable.”
“What stands out to me is the national police oversight commission,” said Anderson. “I think that’s a step in the right direction but I think we could also add something that addresses a little bit more of the racial disparity in America.”
She worries about the credibility of the commission and who it will be staffed with. If it is made up of overflow from the regular police departments, she believes it would just play into the bias that police already have.
“There’s a lot of pushback for defunding the police,” said Meglin. “A lot of people have knee jerk reactions about that. The Conservatives that don’t want any reform are accusing the Democrats of saying they’re going to get rid of the police department but no, that’s not what we mean by ‘defund’.”
Meglin believes that establishing a police oversight commission will help start conversations about the role of police which may help Conservatives and Liberals better understand each other.
Immigration and Refugees
Biden has vowed to stop the travel ban that Donald Trump placed on many Islamic countries, provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants who came as children, raise the refugee cap, and create a task force to reunite separated families at the United States-Mexico border.
“The task force for separated families is so important,” said Anderson. “Just refugee relief, in general, will be huge. I think that’s one of the most urgent things.”
In recent weeks, Biden has faced backlash from Progressives for reopening a child detention facility for migrants.
“Migrant families should not be separated under any administration,” said Egeghy. “There needs to be more humane reforms within the detention centers especially surrounding the health and safety of the residents.”
Before even being sworn in, Biden promised to have the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization, two organizations that hold guidelines for protecting the planet, as well as public health.
His plans also include setting a goal to reach a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050 and conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
“Both the Paris Climate Accord and the 100% clean energy by 2050 goal is counter to the past four years,” said Brigman, who is also a leader of the Riverside Environmental Club. “That’s so different from not believing in climate change.”
There is not an active Riverside Young Republicans club.