The Democrat knows that there is no safer place than the center, and no strategy more useful than the pragmatism of small steps. Like the former president between 1933 and 1945, he will seek to implement a plan that favors the most disadvantaged and slows the decline of the middle class.
Joe Biden is a man of commitment. He knows there is no other way to survive in Washington. If the forty-year political career between Congress and the White House has taught him anything is that there is no safer place than the center, no more useful strategy than the pragmatism of small steps.
When he arrives at the White House on January 20, he will have numerous fronts open and it will not be able to close almost any without the collaboration of the republicans. He appealed to this help in one of the most memorable speeches of this campaign. It was last week in Warm Springs, Georgia, a small spa town where Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) was going to mitigate the pain caused by polio and where he ended up dying in 1945. Biden spoke of “saving this country” and doing it from unity. He reached out to all Americans convinced that “the heart” of the United States is not yet made of stone.
Any president-elect appeals to unity. Beyond courtesy and rhetoric, unity has never been more necessary than since the great depression years, when Roosevelt was president and activated the new deal, a vast public investment program that pulled millions of Americans out of work and revived the economy. Almost a century has passed and Biden speaks of imitating Roosevelt and launching another new deal that favors the most disadvantaged and slows the decline of the middle class.
Roosevelt, who was a Democrat, had to overcome opposition from Congress, which was in Republican hands, and Biden will have to do the same now because it is difficult for his party to win the majority in the Senate in these elections.
Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, when he was 29 years old., and left his seat to be Obama’s vice president in 2008. Obama took advantage of his experience on Capitol Hill and tried several times to mediate with the Republican Senate but had little success. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not want to cooperate. His main goal was for Obama to be a one-term president. Biden will reach out to his old colleague from Kentucky, but it is very difficult for him to take it.
It is still possible that the Democrats could take control of the Upper House. The two seats for Georgia are likely to be decided in an election scheduled for January. But even with this triumph, which is now remote, Biden will have to agree on his agenda with the most conservative senators from his own Democratic party.
In the fight he had with Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency, Biden learned that now it is no longer worth rebuilding the welfare state that Obama raised and Trump has distorted. It will be necessary to go further, enter areas such as that of the minimum vital income, issues that in Europe are social democratic but that for the majority of the American population sound like communism. Biden himself is one of them. As a senator, he was not in favor of a reform of the welfare state that would improve subsidies for the poorest. He put the principle of individual responsibility before that of collective solidarity. Each citizen is responsible for his life.
Flagrant errors of judgment mark his long parliamentary career. He failed to protect Anita Hill when he reported sexual harassment at the hands of Supreme Court candidate Clarence Thomas. Biden chaired the 1991 Justice committee that humiliated Hill during his testimony and later confirmed Thomas. Biden defended in 1994 a reform of the penal code to toughen jail sentences that did not stop crime and made the United States a liberal democracy with more prisoners per inhabitant. Biden supported the war against Iraq in 2002. He then chaired the Foreign Relations committee that examined and validated the false evidence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. He believed that it was a necessary war to bring democracy to Iraq and, from there, transform the Arab world.
Biden admits he’s naive. It is precisely on this innocence that he will try to agree with the Republicans and, when he fails to do so, it is on this refusal that he will build his story in favor of a cathartic purification of the country to atone for the excesses of the Trumpian carnival.
Biden will restore normalcy in the White House, restore dignity to the institution of the presidency, trust in government and the democratic process. It would be good if he promoted a reform of the electoral system, unfair and archaic, but for this he would need to leave his comfort zone – the prudence of ultracentrism – and build a parliamentary consensus that seems impossible.
Biden will face the pandemic from a scientific basis, not a denier like Trump. He will keep Obama’s public health program, which benefits 30 million Americans, and will try to expand it.
It will also address the systemic racism of American society. Know niggas well and Kamala Harris will be a great help here from the vice presidency, but this is a historical flaw that will not go away. Racial injustice can be mitigated with social policies, correcting the reform of the penal code that he himself promoted, reforming the police, reducing the possession of weapons and improving public education in the poorest and most conflictive neighborhoods. Harris grew up in one of them. He knows what must be done but it is difficult for the Republican party, high in populism, to agree to collaborate.
The world has changed a lot in the last four years. The liberal order that Biden believes so much in is deeply shaken. It will try to recover the multilateral institutions, but here it will also have to go further. Neither NATO nor the UN are functioning properly.
Biden may cut aid to the oil industry and return to the Paris consensus to combat the climate crisis, but it will be necessary to accelerate the transition to a green and sustainable economy if he is to stop global warming. Millions of jobs and lifestyles will be affected. Biden has said in the campaign that he has ambition to try, even if it goes against his centrist instincts.
The new president will seek another nuclear deal with Iran and will maintain the trade and strategy battle with China. Europe must be your great ally here. At stake is the new world order.
There is no doubt that Biden will reestablish transatlantic ties and will speak out against Russian interference in Eastern EuropeBut it will take time to rebuild the State department and other administration offices that Trump has dismantled.