I haven’t written about the 2020 US Presidential Election since May though this does not mean I haven’t been following it closely. The lack of writing was down to a combination of a relatively traumatic 2020 personally but probably more because I didn’t find it as exciting once Joe Biden had successfully won the Democratic Primary. I was, and remain, a big fan of Bernie Sanders and initially I was both disappointed by Biden’s candidature and sceptical of his chances of beating Donald Trump in the Presidential Election.
The reasons for my disappointment and fear will be well known to many. Joe Biden is not the most charismatic of political figures and, if he wins tonight, he will be 78 by the time he becomes President in January. Unlike Trump, who is also in his seventies, Biden displays evidence of his advanced age in almost every media appearance.
I was initially very concerned that the buoyant economy of the United States would be enough to convince enough Independent and 2016 Trump voters who had previously voted Democrat to close their eyes to creeping authoritarianism and numerous incidents of racism and misogyny that has cloaked the White House in shame since January 2017.
However, as I wrote back in May, the coronavirus pandemic allayed many of my fears for Biden’s election chances. It has had a lasting and damaging impact on the American economy and the incoherence of Trump’s messaging and actions have finally convinced many of his ineptitude. Furthermore, there has been clear evidence that Trump has acted against the advice of his pandemic team when he felt a different course of action would boost his image and/or re-election chances. Unfortunately for him, he has now squandered his chances of being re-elected and I fully expect Joe Biden to be the named the President-Elect in the next twenty-four hours.
While many are now writing up their final predictions and filling out the extremely addictive, www.270towin.com state map predictor, I already want to focus on what I believe a Joe Biden presidency can and should deliver. I am now writing on the assumption that Joe Biden not only wins but that the Democrats hold the House and retake the Senate.
A short video clip went viral this week which showed Barack Obama receive a basketball and land a three-pointer from a difficult angle and then confidently stride off claiming “that’s what I do!” followed by a sheepish looking Joe Biden who still struggles to claim the mantle of being the leader now and not the follower. I know many in the US are simply hoping that Biden can bring back the perceived glory days of Obama’s two-term presidency when Biden served as the Vice President.
I don’t think that would be enough and I believe that while Biden has not nearly promised as much as Obama did before his election, Biden has the much greater opportunity to exceed the expectations of most observed of American politics.
There is a vastly different political landscape in the United States to 2008 when Obama was elected. Back then, the emphasis was almost purely on taking measures to ensure the economy got back on track with little emphasis on what structural inequalities had caused the Crash in the first place.
The Democratic Party has been dragged to the Left by Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Candidate runs in 2016 and 2020. However, there are many more powerful, progressive voices in the party now like Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and others. Their voices will not be silenced, and I believe Biden knows he will need to work with others in the Party and not try and be a one-man show.
As I have briefly mentioned above, I do believe that the Democrats will also take the Senate and if/when they control all three branches of the US Government, Biden might really be able to lead the ship to four years of genuine political change that could have long term positive impacts on numerous strands of US society. Many of the people will simply want an America that isn’t run by Donald Trump, but I think Biden’s presidency will go further.
His election website has a lot of very positive campaign pledges and if even some of them are honoured, we could see an America with a Green New Deal, wider healthcare coverage and a minimum living wage. Furthermore, I hope that Biden has learned from his experiences as a Vice President that change can be difficult and it requires work and compromise, the advantage for Biden is that the middle ground of the Democratic Party has moved to the Left and the public’s appetite for change is greater than ever.
In summary, I initially didn’t believe Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump but I have been convinced otherwise for over six months now. In that time, I have closely observed the dynamics of both his campaign and the Democratic Party. I now believe that not only can Biden exceed the minimal expectations that many have for his presidency but that his (first?) four years could really go on to be a historical American Presidential term…