Civics For Citizens: The First 100 Days

100 pennies = 1 dollar. 100 yards = 1 football field. 100 days = 1 successful president? The first 100 days is a key milestone for a president; it demonstrates their priorities and sets the tone for their administration. After months of campaign promises, new presidents are expected to show the American people whether or not they can deliver on their promises. It is such a big deal that candidates often campaign on their 100 day plans. A hundred days seems miniscule compared to four years in office, but a lot of things can happen. Within their first few months in office, President Obama got an economic stimulus package passed, and President Kennedy ordered the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Invasion. Given all the chatter, we know the first 100 days is a big deal, but what is it? Luckily, your trusty Civics for Citizens series is here to break it all down. In this installment, we’ll discuss the history of the first 100 days, what that looks like in the Biden Administration, and most importantly what this all means for you. 

The First 100 Days: What Is It?

Although it’s an arbitrary number, the first 100 days has come to stand as the measure of the swiftness and effectiveness of new administrations. Ironically, the first 100 days wasn’t a big deal until about a hundred years ago. Born out of the Depression, this term was coined by FDR when he updated the American people on the status of the New Deal. After years of economic calamity, the American people were desperate for aid, and the new president promised to deliver in 100 days. In his first 100 days in office, Congress passed fifteen major bills aimed to curtail the Great Depression. This kind of timeline was, and still is, practically unheard of, and thus a new standard for presidents was born.

The First 100 Days and Biden

Similarly to FDR’s early days in office, the country is desperate for aid today. Given the global pandemic, economic crisis, and political climate, President Biden has a lot to deliver on. Like FDR, Biden has laid out an ambitious 100 day plan which includes investing in vaccine manufacturing and distribution, making two years of community college free, and passing the Equality Act. While all eyes are on the president, the success of the first 100 days is dependent upon the relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Both must work together to deliver on their promises to the American people. 

However, here is where the similarities between the two presidents end. It’s no secret that party politics can impede proper debate and swift government action. The president’s party has the majority in Congress; however, unlike FDR, this majority is razor thin, meaning that fostering bipartisanship will be key.

The First 100 Days and You

For voters, especially young ones and first timers, this can be particularly frustrating, considering that they turned out in historic numbers to make their voices heard. Young people should be able to know and have a say on what goes down on Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill, which is why The Andrew Goodman Foundation has put together the tools to help make this easier. 

1) Follow Us on Instagram 

Join us as we highlight and track the progress of the Biden Administration’s first 100 days goals through our First 100 Days social media series. Each week we have an overview of the president’s major goals, and provide the information you need to take action or learn more about the issues.

2) Respect My Vote

You have the right to make your voice heard beyond the ballot box. Contact your elected officials and let them know how you think they are doing on their agenda.

3) Stay Updated

Get action alerts on the key moments where your voice is absolutely needed. Opt in to receive text updates by texting “AGF” to 56525.

The first 100 days is only a fraction of a president’s time in office, but for the American people, especially those who are bearing the brunt of multiple crises, there is no time to waste. Young Americans overwhelmingly placed their support behind this administration in November, and now it’s time for us to continue our civic engagement and hold our elected officials accountable.

About the Author

Rachel Sondkar is the Communications Associate at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. She is a UC Berkeley graduate, and a former Andrew Goodman Ambassador.