Biden was bequeathed a hefty political legacy

A seasoned statesman like Joe Biden has a great ability to build consensus in fractured America - if he so wishes. Op-ed..

Dr. Salem AlKetbi ,

Nancy Pelosi tears up Donald Trump's State of the Union speech
Nancy Pelosi tears up Donald Trump's State of the Union speech
Reuters

As we all watched the official inauguration of new US President Joe Biden, the American landscape looked very much at loggerheads. Joe Biden’s speech on this momentous occasion was brimming with messages of comfort and hope that the crisis in American democracy could be beaten to restore national unity.

So many indicators point to a top-priority task. No other priority is more important to the new president. Despite his age, a weakness for many of his critics, Biden may turn out to be the smartest choice for the US in these complex circumstances. Such a seasoned statesman can have a great ability to build consensus.


Obviously, the controversy did not start yesterday. It has been rife since Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory, when some Democratic legislators boycotted his inauguration.
He will need it to deal with a Congress where Democrats retain a slim majority, under Republicans eyes more watchful than before. Most Republican lawmakers are more inclined to clash with their rivals because of the tense and fractious atmosphere of recent months and the widening political gulf between the two major parties.

Obviously, the controversy did not start yesterday. It has been rife since Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory, when some Democratic legislators boycotted his inauguration. During his State of the Union address in February 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up his speech, apparently in reaction to former President Trump’s deliberately not shaking her hand before delivering.

The situation was very odd and reflected the high level of political and partisan conflict in Washington, although Pelosi showed emotional stability as Trump embarrassed her. At first, she simply did not use the formal words of welcome that accompany the President’s speech to Congress.

“Members of Congress, the President of the US,” she simply said. Pelosi back there received warm support from her colleagues in the Democratic caucus. “Last night, we saw the president of the US shred the truth right in front of us,” she said at the time.

Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries found nothing wrong with how Pelosi handled things. “As far as I’m concerned, the shredder wasn’t available, and so she did what she needed to do,” he put it.

Meanwhile, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy commented, “It’s very sad that a person in that position, next in line to the presidency after the vice president” acts that way. All this reflects how great the unhappiness is and grows. I doubt that Trump’s departure will improve things.

Biden in his eight years as vice president under Barack Obama’s administration had done a good job making deals and reaching understanding with Republican lawmakers. But he will have a hard time building bridges with the GOP. Republicans today are different from those in the past.

Moreover, the Democratic Party is no longer able to forge compromises with its Republican opponents, especially those charging it of adopting socialist or leftist tendencies. Indeed, Republicans are going further right, while Democrats more and more to the left.

Some observers even point out that both sides are experiencing a kind of identity crisis. Republicans are split in two: on the one hand, the Trumpist right and on the other, the old Republican mainstream. For the Democrats, the division manifested itself in the first round to win the party’s nomination in the last presidential election.

The contrast is sharp between the positions of the progressive wing of which Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren became totems, and the Democrats’ traditional centrism with Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. In short, Biden will have to deal with a heavy political legacy.

The Independent even reported in an article by Patrick Coburn that “the damage [former president Trump has] done to America will be hard to undo,” citing fears Trumpism will continue after its father’s departure.

Although the author rejected the idea that Trump could remain in the spotlight, evidence suggests that the Trumpist current is still alive. Dealing with it with statesmanship will be a determining factor in Biden’s success in his first term.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate



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