The System: Zak Cheney-Rice - Settling for Nothing
New York magazine|August 2 - 15, 2021
Now Why Joe Biden’s racial-justice agenda is stalled.
Zak Cheney-Rice

JOE BIDEN won by promising less. Vocal factions in the Democratic Party and beyond saw Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat as evidence that Americans were hungry for something bold and transformative from the left. But the former vice-president made a more modest bet in 2020: that people mostly wanted Donald Trump’s presidency to be over and more competent response to the pandemic.

It paid off. And to the surprise of many voters and activists who had lowered their expectations, the president has shown flashes of bold vision in office, signing a big stimulus package praised by Bernie Sanders himself as “the single most significant piece of legislation for working-class people that has been passed since the 1960s.” The decline in poverty rates that his American Rescue Plan has helped accelerate—across racial groups but for Black people especially—may be temporary, but it indicates the profound impact his agenda can have at its best. Biden and his party are on the cusp of passing a $3.5 trillion omnibus package that would flush an unusually large amount of resources toward expanding access to health care and education and fighting climate change.

Yet this wave of legislation is still tethered to Biden’s original proposition: Pushing for less than what America’s crises demand is the price that has to be paid for victory and hence any chance at progress at all. So instead of universal health care, tinkering with the Affordable Care Act so more people have coverage. Instead of a Green New Deal, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions by half within a decade, which experts say is insufficient.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINEView All

The Undoing of Joss Whedon

The Buffy creator, once an icon of Hollywood feminism, is now an outcast accused of misogyny. How did he get here?

10+ mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

Last Sane Man on Wall Street

Nathan Anderson made his name exposing—and betting against—corporate fraud. But short selling in a frothy pandemic economy can be ruinous.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

13,000 POUNDS AT 118 MILES PER HOUR

THE WRECK OF A LIMO NEAR ALBANY WAS THE DEADLIEST U.S. TRANSPORTATION DISASTER IN A DECADE. AND THE MAN BEHIND IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST NOTORIOUS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANTS IN FBI HISTORY.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

72 minutes with… Connor Pardoe

Pickleball, once a game for the 50-plus crowd, exploded during the pandemic. This sports commissioner wants to turn it into a national pastime.

6 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

Hanya's Boys

The novelist tends to torture her gay male characters—but only so she can swoop in to save them.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

Locals Only

A cabaret star asks: Can you find yourself without leaving home?

4 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

Mitski in Nine Acts

If the musician has to reveal herself at all, she’d rather do it one short burst at a time.

9 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

SEE SPOT PAINT

Agnieszka Pilat has become the Silicon Valley elite’s favorite artist. Even The Matrix’s Neo owns her work.

10 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

The City Politic: Errol Louis

The Eric Adams Show: A beginning stocked with masterstrokes, gaffes, and eyebrow-raising appointments.

6 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022

The Money Game: Choire Sicha

America’s Quarter-Life: Crisis Where’s our change? The answer is gnarlier than you’d expect.

6 mins read
New York magazine
January 17 - 30, 2022
RELATED STORIES

BLUNDERING BIDEN'S DEADLY WEB OF LIES!

Joe conspiring to fool America with tall tales of conquering COVID

3 mins read
National Enquirer
January 24, 2022

Biden's Year 2 Test

As the pandemic wears on and prices rise, many Americans are disillusioned with the president. Can he win them back?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 24, 2022

HOME COVID TESTS TO BE COVERED BY INSURERS STARTING SATURDAY

Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans. The Biden administration announced the change Monday as it looks to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising frustrations.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
January 14, 2022

Cyberwar at the White House

Anne Neuberger and the competition to set Biden’s cybersecurity agenda

7 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
January 10, 2022

BIDEN MILLIONS MADE IN THE SHADE!

Joe & family feast on get-rich-quick schemes & brazen influence peddling

4 mins read
National Enquirer
January 10, 2022

Low-Visibility Mission

Data-tracking failures at the CDC are fueling political support for an overhaul of the agency

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 27, 2021 - January 03, 2022 (Double Spread)

Realtors Are Sorry About All the Discrimination

The National Association of Realtors wants to make amends. As long as it doesn’t have to talk about that 6% commission

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 27, 2021 - January 03, 2022 (Double Spread)

BIDEN DELUSIONAL & SUFFERING DEMENTIA!

Experts warn president, 79, isn’t up to Oval Office job

4 mins read
Globe
December 27, 2021

January 6 Was Practice

Donald Trump is better positioned to subvert an election now than he was in 2020.

10+ mins read
The Atlantic
January - February 2022

HARRIS UNVEILS PLAN FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING NETWORK

The Biden administration released an ambitious federal strategy to build 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country and bring down the cost of electric cars with the goal of transforming the U.S. auto industry.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
December 17, 2021