As Joe Biden’s presidency approaches the 100 day mark, The University of West Florida Department of Government is getting ready to give it a review. “We’re having a roundtable discussion that’s taking stock of the first 100 days of the Biden administration. Things that have changed, things that have stayed the same and what we think the implications are.”
Adam Cayton is an associate professor of government in The Reubin O’D Askew Department of Government at UWF. He’ll be one member of the panel examining how Joe Biden is progressing in the early part of his administration.
“I’m hoping to hear whatever folks are interested in. I’m hoping to hear questions that I haven’t thought of. Because (me) and each of my colleagues will have some things that we have noticed that are interesting and we’re prepared to talk about. But the wonderful thing about public events is that people ask wonderful questions that we had not thought to discuss that often end up being more interesting than what we come prepared with.”
One question that usually gets asked when talking about a president’s first 100 days is why do we even care about the first 100 days.
“Sure, it’s mostly just tradition. The Franklin Roosevelt administration that started in 1933 had what’s become a legendary period of policy productivity during its first 100 days when he requested congress pass a number of sweeping legislative enactments to address the Great Depression. And because his party had an overwhelming majority in congress he was able to get a friendly legislature to pass massive policy reforms in a really short amount of time. So his first 100 days is pointed to as one of the most productive periods in the history of any presidential administration. And what was remarkable about it is that in terms of turning the slow moving ship of American public policy, 100 days is a very short time. So it’s become common since then to take stock of what a president is doing after their first 100 days in office. But, really there’s nothing special about 100 days other that it’s a round number and Franklin Roosevelt has a productive 100 days. Although we could easily be talking about his first 99 days or his first 101 days, it doesn’t really matter.”
So, is the 100 day test an accurate sign of a successful presidency?
“I don’t think so. It can be a good indicator. A lot of presidents get more done early in their administration rather than later. But some goals take a long time to achieve, and some policies aren’t enacted until later. We wouldn’t have known how history would see many of our many of our presidents in the first 100 days of their administrations. So, take for example presidents who left office and are viewed as being unresponsive to policy problems. I’m thinking of people like Jimmy Carter or Herbert Hoover, who have not gone down in history as our most effective presidents. And in their first 100 days, they looked great. Because, in Hoover’s case, the Great Depression was still months down the road. So, I don’t think it’s a great barometer, but it’s a good way for the public to see what a president is trying to do. But it’s far too early to determine whether or not they’ll be successful.”
The roundtable will be Monday, April 5 at 6 p.m. and will be held over Zoom. There is no charge to participate and everyone will be welcome to ask questions during the discussion. You can find registration information HERE.