The world media, heads of state and perhaps millions of ordinary citizens were glued to their television sets as the US election results unfolded. They watched in rapt attention as the wealthiest and the oldest democracy—the United States of America—chose their president.
The 2020 presidential elections were closely contested with record voter turnout. The incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were locked in fierce battle as results were awaited from key swing states. The public mandate ensured Joe Biden was able to inch past the magic number of 270 electoral college votes. Trump, meanwhile, decided to adopt a rather unusual stance — one that seemed to undermine democratic principles. For several centuries, it is these fundamentals that have stood as beacons of hope for the democratic world.
Who is Joe Biden?
As we head towards 2021, the world, more than anything else, needs a leader like Joe Biden. He possesses vast public office experience spanning almost five decades. If his past accomplishments are a yardstick, there is firm evidence then to believe he is a man of integrity and many seasons. Biden also boasts the rare distinction of enjoying popularity among many Republicans even. This trait will allow him to perhaps garner stronger support for the passage of bipartisan bills.
It is interesting to note that Joe Biden was named among 200 Faces for the Future in a 1974 issue of Time magazine. I guess they were spot on. Biden has been in Washington’s political circles for the past 48 years. He was elected to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972. He went on to be re-elected to the senate six times. As a senator, Biden earned acclaim for his negotiation acumen. This was crucial in helping pass legislations. He also helped formulate US policy toward Iraq and the withdrawal of US troops in 2011. Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he bravely led the Gun-Violence Task Force.
Despite his laurels, Joe Biden held no reservations in serving as vice president in the Obama administration. In 2017, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On the personal front, Biden has recovered from more than his fair share of tragic losses. In 1966, he married Neilia Hunter and the couple was parents to three children. Shortly after, in 1972, his wife Neilia and their one-year old daughter were tragically killed in an automobile accident. Biden’s son suffered a broken leg and a skull injury. He was so overcome by grief that he nearly resigned to care for them. In 1977, Joe married Jill Biden.
Biden regularly travelled on the Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to his home in Delaware so he could be at home with his boys. He rode the Amtrak every day for 36 years, and among his many nicknames, ‘Amtrak Joe’ is definitely the most popular one. In another untimely demise, Biden lost his son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer in 2015. The younger Biden was Attorney General of Delaware.
The road ahead will not be a smooth one
While Trumpism still abounds, considering some 71 million were in favour of him leading a second term, better sense has fortunately prevailed on the majority. American voters have risen to protect their democracy. The midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin ensured Joe Biden’s decisive win. And this has also implied another interesting highlight. When he assumes offices in January 2021 as the 46th US President, Biden will be the oldest President to assume office in the nation’s history.
The road ahead will not be an easy one for the President-elect. The US has been ravaged by deep social divides and for it to maintain its formidable economic dominance, there must be greater emphasis on inclusivity and towards alleviating social prejudices. Several decades of advances made in the social sphere have unfortunately been turned back and the onus lies on Biden to undo this radical fragmentation. Trump sought to “make America great again” but for all intents and purposes, the outgoing president’s 2016 campaign slogan seems to have been just eyewash. With record Covid-19 cases and an economy in the doldrums, the US is currently anything but great.
Joe Biden will have his work cut out. He will need to strengthen law agencies and earn trust from citizens of all ethnicities. The vice president elect Kamala Harris will be instrumental in delivering on these fronts. Together, Biden and Harris will need to galvanise support from senators and work cohesively with them. The pandemic must be better addressed and science and expert advice cannot be disregarded as Trump was wont to do.
Key priority areas
Healthcare, in particular, will need to be prioritised on. Considering the US’ competence in medicine, Trump really could have used the pandemic to the nation’s benefit. In what were glaring failures, efforts must now be made by Biden to support the scientific community and ensure allocation of all resources to develop an effective and safe vaccine.
The second most pressing issue at hand is the economy. It was already showing signs of slowing prior to the pandemic’s onset. In the recent past, joblessness has grown to levels not seen since the Great Depression. There is much work for Biden and it will undoubtedly be a hectic initial phase in the White House.
A third key area for Biden would be to address matters of foreign policy. With an expansionist China striving for global dominance, there must be an effective counterbalance. And there is also the ever- present threat of North Korea. Continued efforts are needed to ensure embracing of mulitlaterism and the whole abrupt tendency to adopt isolationist positions must also be undone.
Trust in the US presidency will be restored
In what was becoming an increasingly common trend—bordering legitimacy almost—was sheer crassness. A shrill tone that often used distasteful language, interspersed with less than optimal references, was beginning to seem perfectly normal. With Biden assuming the role of the world’s most powerful leader, it will, no doubt, restore a sense of dignity and reinstate trust in the US President’s position.
President-elect Joe Biden has, in his illustrious career, faced tragic lows and also has seen remarkable political gains. Each time, he has risen to the call of duty and has delivered with aplomb and integrity. Biden recalled that his father would often say, “Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.” Indeed, he seems to have lived by this principle all his life. It is an earnest hope that the misgivings of the past four years can be swiftly set right.
God Bless America! God Bless the World!