OPINION: Priorities of a Biden White House

Cevdet writes: For everyone but Donald Trump, the election campaign is over. President-elect Biden’s monumental tasks await his inauguration. But, will a divided US be able to come together to make valuable and meaningful change in a volatile environment? Time will only tell.

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9 November 2020


It took a very long four days following the US presidential election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 for Joseph R. Biden Jr. to emerge as President-elect. Incumbent Donald J. Trump has still not accepted defeat, but the results are clear, and there is no doubt that Trump lost. Contrary to pollsters, this was a nail-biter and clearly demonstrates just how divided the US has become. For example, Biden received more votes than any other candidate in US history, surpassing 75 million by Saturday evening, but Trump also received 70.7 million votes — bettering the previous record of 69 million set by Barack Obama in 2008. Restoring trust in American institutions and the nation’s social fabric will be no easy task. President-elect Biden truly has an uphill battle on his hands after four very damaging years of unconventional and haphazard Trumpian governance — both domestically and globally. Simply put, managing the highest post in the US is nothing like hosting a reality TV show, nor can it be done effectively by using Twitter.

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When Biden is sworn in as the 46th American President on January 20, 2021, the Senate and Congress will still be gravely split. The Senate has 48 Republicans versus 46 Democrats although it requires 51 for a majority. Congress has 214 Democratic and 196 Republican representatives when 218 are required for a majority. Even Democrats are at odds with one another, particularly those further on the ideological left (e.g. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren) and the Party’s blue-collar base that saw hope in Trump’s promise to create sustainable, higher-paying jobs in the American heartland. Notwithstanding these challenges, Biden knows how to walk a political tight-rope and strike deals as he was an effective, career Senator from 1973 to 2009, and a two-term Vice President under Barack Obama. As a seasoned Washington insider, Biden will leverage his experience and pragmatism to re-calibrate the US domestically and on the international stage.



· The Trump Presidency and Today’s Elections


There are high expectations as President-elect Biden will have to fix the damage caused by Trump’s reckless antics and lack of decorum. Domestically, the Biden Administration will likely do a complete reversal on irresponsible incitements and re-engage with disadvantaged communities with empathy, understanding, and tolerance. However, Biden must take tangible action to remediate America’s systemic ills (e.g. access to affordable health care, significant economic disparities, poor public education, police brutality — particularly against African Americans, and deep socio-demographic divisions). Similarly, Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-Muslim policies, including the cancellation of the “Dreamers” program and his misguided border wall with Mexico will all be reversed. Under Biden, the US will directly tackle the COVID-19 pandemic based on science and implement a comprehensive economic recovery plan. Likewise, the Biden Administration will reverse US withdrawal from the World Health Organization and Paris Climate Accords in an effort to restore the erstwhile liberal order the US created over the last 100 years. A word to the wise though, internationally the US should avoid toppling governments and conspiring to support or endorse regime change as that will only create greater geo-political instability. Nobody should expect Sino–American or Russian–US relations to significantly improve as both China and Russia are more assertively reinforcing their positions of influence and will challenge the US without hesitation, particularly where they have gained significant ground during the past four years. China sees the South China Sea along with Central and East Asia as its charge and is investing upwards of $900 billion in its Belt and Road Initiative. Russia is unlikely to compromise with the US across Eurasia, the Middle East or the Mediterranean while it works proactively to weaken the European Union and NATO. There are also a number volatile hot spots throughout the world which will prove difficult for traditional multilateralism to realign as democratic states have become increasingly autocratic globally, including in the European Union.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

For everyone but Donald Trump, the election campaign is over. President-elect Biden’s monumental tasks await his inauguration. But, will a divided US be able to come together to make meaningful change in a volatile environment? Time will only tell.

Korsan Cevdet writes op-eds on politics, international relations, and global political economy. Cevdet holds a MA in Poli Sci and an MBA. Tweets @KorsanCevdet.