When Joe Biden moved into the White House a year ago, he had the Oval Office, the power center of American democracy, redecorated.

This is so common.

Every incumbent chooses his favorite paintings and busts from the rich stock of the presidential office and thus sends a political signal.

Biden had a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt hung above the fireplace, directly across from his desk.

Frank Salisbury painted the President, who ruled during the Great Depression and World War II, in oils in 1947, two years after his death.

Majid Sattar

Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.

  • Follow I follow

During the election campaign, Biden had frequently referred to Roosevelt and also to Lyndon B. Johnson.

One laid the foundations for the American welfare state, the other expanded it in the 1960s, which was also plagued by crises.

Both Democrats are still associated with their slogans to this day.

Roosevelt with the "New Deal", Johnson with the "Great Society".

Biden tried to join this line with his “Build back better” slogan.

He's dealing with a crisis of the century, and not just because of the pandemic.

After taking his oath of office on the steps of the Capitol a year ago, on a bitterly cold winter day in Washington on January 20, he described the task ahead of him.

There is so much to do, to fix, to heal, to build and to achieve.

This referred to the state of the oldest democracy, whose fragility had been reminded to the country two weeks earlier when the Capitol was stormed.

But it also referred to the coronavirus crisis, which, as the new president said at the time, had cost America as many lives in one year as it had in the entirety of World War II.

The Black Lives Matters protests

He didn't forget to mention another pandemic: With a view to the "Black Lives Matter" protests against racism and police violence, which had repeatedly degenerated into serious unrest in recent months, Biden promised to address the question of justice. In order to overcome all these challenges, unity is required, which he - knowing full well what awaited him - called a fleeting good in democracy.

In early November, a year after Election Day, a relieved President appeared before the press in the White House: “Finally.

Infrastructure week,” he said and laughed heartily.

He is so happy to be able to say that.

The night before, after months, Congress passed a $1 trillion investment package, the first cornerstone of its reform program.

32 Republicans had voted with the Democrats, added up in both chambers.

It was his first success in Congress since the Corona relief package was passed in the spring.

Something was done that was overdue, said Biden proudly.

In fact, his predecessors had also set out to modernize the country's ailing public infrastructure;

but they had failed.

Actually, there is no other project in America that is so suitable to be called "bipartisan", that is, to be supported by both parties.

Safer bridges, better roads, faster trains and modern airports are not a question of left and right.

The fact that the projects were put on hold for a long time was also an expression of the general blockade in Washington.

Ever since the poison entered American politics, proposed legislation has been viewed as a zero-sum game: what benefits one harms another.