HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: 17 reasons why it's all go for Joe
Let’s not start by re-hashing the inauguration. We all already know about it. It was magic. It was historical. It was tear jerking. And of all the Game of Thrones-inspired fashion, Lady Gaga killed the couture second only to queen Michelle Obama, who looked regal, graceful and powerful as ever.
After any event like that, you’d expect people to go home, kick off their shoes and lean into some binge-watching or a nap. I’m pretty sure that’s what the United Kingdom's royal family does when they’re done with their official waves from the balcony anyway. But that’s for ordinary Joes like you, me and the British royal family. The top-shelf Joes, like Joe Biden, get straight to work. So let’s have a look at all the things he signed off on since placing his hand on that 172-year-old family Bible and being sworn in as the new president of the United States.
Biden’s day-one executive orders total 17 and include memorandums and directives that pointedly involve promises to lead differently and better than former reality TV star and the biggest mistake America has made in recent times Donald Trump. They also include orders that involve important themes like the pandemic, climate change and racism. Biden’s not buying time.
He’s acting. He’s acted. And he’s done it swiftly by using the fullest extent of his executive powers as soon as he could - a massive and symbolically important change from a man who told his constituents to drink bleach to cure the virus, denied it existed at all and who spent a lot of his time bragging about p#ssy-grabbing.
Here are the 17 executive orders as reported on the official White House website that Biden has signed in his first hour of taking office:
1. An executive order stipulating that all citizens wear masks, and keep their distance from each other, including on federal property. (This doesn’t seem like that big a deal because it’s so obvious and something that’s been said and preached over and over again, but not a reality in the America that was).
2. In conjunction with this, he launched a "100 Days Masking Challenge" to encourage Americans to wear masks. (These people need a lot of cheering on. I hope the tone of competition gets them going. Again, it may seem like a silly executive order, but if you’ve any idea of the leadership in the past four years, this kind of marketing is necessary).
3. Still on the pandemic, Biden reversed the Oros man’s decision to remove the US from the World Health Organization. (You know, because he was the best ever, he knew the most ever and he was the best ever at making that decision. Just the best. Ever).
4. An executive order that puts a team in charge of the pandemic response within the National Security Council. (I truly am so happy for the American people to have a fixed and sane position on COVID-19 that could revive a Directorate for Global Health Security).
GALLERY: Joe Biden's inauguration as US President
5. Biden also signed an order that calls on congress to extend aid for the pandemic. The executive decision also includes requests that various departments extend evictions, foreclosure moratoriums and that payments for federal loans be paused. (I am clapping my hands, and so should you).
6. Allowing the US to return to and rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change within a month. (The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 parties in December 2015, is legally binding, and its goal is to lower pre-industrial levels of global warming. The reason Biden has to allow for this is because on the 1st of June in 2017, the overly fake-tan man, who did dumb sh#t in the oval office, announced that the US would cease participating in the agreement and only re-enter on his terms of being fair to the US, its businesses and his favourite people - its taxpayers. Why was his reneging on the agreement consequential? Well, because it reduced other countries’ emission space, raised the costs of their emissions and made it extremely difficult for developing countries to adapt and relieve the effects of climate change. The point in a nutshell being: “me, me, me. I’m super clever and super selfish. Look at me”).
7. More on climate change: Biden signed an executive order reversing actions Trump took that Biden's agencies agree have been harmful to the environment, public health and national interest. (Basically this order is a plea for agencies to change everything they believed about Trump’s standards. Side note: he has none).
8. Biden’s historical focus, mention and aim to root out systemic racism not only stood out in his speech, but is now manifested in an executive order whose goal is to embed equity across federal policymaking destructing other barriers to “opportunity from federal programmes and institutions". The order disbands Trouty-Pouty’s 1776 commission report in which Trump called the American education system child abuse because kids were being taught about systemic racism, which he believed to be a web of lies. (The only lie during Trump’s presidency was his ability to be president. This information is factually accurate).
9. An additional reversal on a Trumpian tail-spin is Biden’s executive order that all undocumented immigrants would be included in the census.
10. Biden also directed all officials to "preserve and fortify" the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by way of a signed memorandum. (I’ve personally seen kids cry in airports in the US during the clown’s reign and trust me, it is horrible).
WATCH: The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
11. An executive action repealing the "Muslim ban" that restricted entry into the US from majority-Muslim countries. (The reason I saw kids cry and be separated from their parents is because upon entering the US, as a Muslim, I was held in custody for some time with actual FBI officers. It wasn’t fun and I’m glad it’s been cancelled).
12. Related to all of the above, Biden also signed an executive order revoking Trump's "harsh and extreme immigration enforcement". Biden’s directives instruct agencies to set policies that are more in line with his own values and that of his administration. (Read: compassion and respect).
13. A proclamation to pause building of the wall between the US and Mexico. Signed. A statement that promises to determine how best to use those funds instead. (Enough said, I feel, on this matter).
14. The newly elected president also signed a memorandum that extended a designation which allows Liberians who have been in the US for a long time to stay.
15. An executive order directing the government to interpret the Civil Rights Act as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, not just race, colour, religion, sex, and national origin. (You know, one would think that by now this should be and is obvious but unfortunately it’s not. I’m going to go ahead and thank Kamala Harris for this. The gut says what it says, people).
16. Biden signed an executive order decreeing government officials would follow new ethical rules. (What those rules are is not yet clearly defined but I don’t think they involve a bottom line instead of a heart, with some humility and empathy).
17. And lastly, Biden’s final signature on his very first day, in his very first hour, fell on a document that reverses the "regulatory process executive orders" enacted by the Trump administration. (In a nutshell – like the brain of Trump himself – this means that every decision Trump made would be cancelled, removed or revised if they did not serve the public interest of the American people with justice and dignity and “the interest of future generations”).
Disclaimer: Really, all I want to do is talk about Vice President Harris, and I will at some point. But not today. Today is a day for signing, sealing and delivering. After all of the above, I concur with the majority of Americans when they say: it’s all go for Joe.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.