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CSU experts take stock of the Biden administration’s future

A rallygoer holds up a Biden-Harris sign while a rally leader speaks to the crowd gathered outside the Colorado State Capitol Nov. 7. (Lucy Morantz | The Collegian)

With a new presidential administration one week into their term, questions still remain on what the next four years will look like for federal policymakers.

Colorado State University’s political science and communications departments held a webinar on Jan. 26 to answer questions and explain what policies and changes people should expect to see with President Joe Biden’s new administration. 

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The webinar was planned and coordinated by Jennifer Hitt, the communications and alumni coordinator for the department of political science, along with Beth Etter, the director of communications for the College of Liberal Arts. 

The webinar featured a panel of several experts from within CSU’s political science, economics, journalism and communications departments. Moderated by College of Liberal Arts Dean Ben Withers, the webinar began with each panelists’ insight into what trends to expect from the Biden administration.

Journalism and Media Communication Assistant Professor Tori Arthur spoke on the media politics of the Biden administration.

“I think one of the biggest challenges facing the Biden-Harris administration will be how it crafts messages related to the racial equity initiatives that we’ve seen coming out of the White House over the last week,” Arthur said. 

Arthur said these victories with executive orders are to be celebrated, but there needs to be better media communication in the plan to solidify these changes into actual law.  

“Journalists have noted, over the last six days, details on how the administration plans to approach working with a narrow margin in Congress to pass what they’re calling ‘bold legislation that advances racial equity’ have been pretty light, and unfortunately, no heavier details came out of today’s announcements or press briefings,” Arthur said.  

The fact that executive orders are not permanent means there must be a plan to get these ideas through Congress, Arthur said. 

Political Science Associate Professor Matthew Hitt presented his expertise with knowledge of American institutions and, in particular, the use of the executive order.

Matthew Hitt talked on how the use of the executive order was how the Trump administration achieved most of its accomplishments but also how there are concerns about the durability of the executive order. 

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“Durable policy happens through Congress, so I am keeping a keen eye on that,” Matthew Hitt said. 

Matthew Hitt also touched on the COVID-19 relief bill being a major topic of conversation going into the Biden administration and the debate on if the Senate will repeal the filibuster from their rules of operation. 

Karrin Anderson, a communication studies professor and director of graduate studies in the department, focused on gender-related issues in politics.

“The greatest challenge to Biden, related to women and politics and gender and politics, would be a combination of high expectations on the left and potential backlash from the right,” Anderson said. 

Anderson described the achievements that have already been made for gender equity in government work. As a part of the Biden administration, Kamala Harris is the first woman and woman of color in the vice presidency, and an openly transgender woman is now the assistant secretary to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Despite the fact that Biden is an older cisgender white male, he’s bringing a lot of change in terms of his administration — when it comes to gender and politics, there’s going to be a huge tonal shift in the White House,” Anderson said. 

Eric Fattor, an expert on international security, political theory and the global political media and instructor in the department of political science, discussed that “rescuing the foreign policy from the damage of Donald Trump and placing the United States back at the head of the liberal world order” will be the main focus of Biden’s foreign policy.

Included in that is how the U.S. should conduct global pandemic efforts, respond to climate change and adapt efforts in fighting terrorism.

With such a drastic shift in ideologies between the Trump administration and the Biden administration, many changes across the political spectrum are yet to come.

Isaiah Dennings can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isaiah_dennings.

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