Just more than one week into Joe Biden’s administration, the new president issued approximately 40 executive orders, significantly more than any of his predecessors discharged in their first weeks.
Many of these orders removed former President Donald Trump’s directives, including immediately ending the Keystone XL pipeline, mandating that any federally funded schools must function as if biological males who claim to be females are the same, and vice versa, or risk losing financial support, and rescinding the Mexico City Policy, forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund abortions in foreign countries.
Some in the GOP such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned Biden’s swift and broad use of executive power despite Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, but mainstream media and the Democrats remain silent on Biden’s exercise of authority.
This lack of reaction by the left comes after journalists, pundits, politicians, and other notable Trump critics spent years condemning Trump for using his federal authority to sign executive orders and execute his agenda. Beginning even before his time in office, Trump critics claimed democracy and the United States were threatened by the potential for him to pen executive orders.
“Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” a New York Times opinion article asked, posing questions and raising concerns about the president’s ability to use executive orders to accomplish his political agenda. Others labeled Trump’s executive demonstrations as “authoritarian,” criticizing him for enacting strong directives just a few days into his administration.
Evan McMullin Tweetstorm on Trump’s Executive Order: “This is a painfully common authoritarian move.” pic.twitter.com/SjeDpid2Oh
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 30, 2017
This narrative was not limited to Trump’s first few weeks in office. During his tenure in the White House, nearly every executive order the former president signed was accused of being “authoritarian” or a gross abuse of his power.
Draft Trump executive order dictates that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for future government buildings. https://t.co/MkuUAdbbHy
Makes sense. Authoritarian rulers tend to have an affinity for classical architecture. pic.twitter.com/gYFjTCLIFx
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) February 9, 2020
Whatever the criticisms I may have of current law, this Executive Order is an authoritarian attack against freedom of expression & accountability.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) May 28, 2020
Look it’s not that I’m unaware of how unconstitutional and authoritarian this Executive Order is – it’s just that he’s pretty clearly doing this particular unconstitutional authoritarian thing because he doesn’t want people talking about his botched pandemic response.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 28, 2020
Biden previously condemned using the executive branch’s sweeping power. In October of 2019, Biden told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he “had the strange notion that we are a democracy” and that “if you can’t get the votes by executive order to do something, things you can’t [legislate] by executive order unless you’re a dictator. We’re a democracy, we need consensus.”
He’s talking about tax policy, of course. But it’s still worth re-visiting in light of starting his administration focused almost entirely on legislating through executive orders.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 26, 2021
The Democrat was referencing his tax increases, but just this week, a reporter pressed White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the “dictator” comment.
“I think you said earlier that some of these executive orders will be used to roll back some of the immoral things that the previous administration had done,” the reporter stated. “If you’re calling these things immoral, is that seeking consensus and unity? And then also, does it suggest that Biden sees himself as perhaps a benevolent dictator?”
Psaki, however, dodged the question, choosing to emphasize that the quote was in reference to taxes. “The President also said during an interview with columnists back in December that he didn’t think executive action should be used for everything and that’s certainly his point of view,” she added.
A few days later, Psaki reiterated that she believed Biden’s executive orders were necessary and appropriate given the prior administration’s actions
“He ran with a commitment to take steps to immediately address the pain and suffering that the American people were feeling. And that includes overturning some of the detrimental, harmful, and, at times, immoral policies and actions of the prior administration,” Psaki claimed. “But he’s the first to tell you, as he said many times publicly, he is not going to take executive action alone.”
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.