The heat is now on former Vice-President Biden now that it looks likely that he will be elected the 46th President of the United States. He has said he will govern for all Americans so now is the time to ‘walk the walk’ but this won’t be easy.
He will have to offer something to the Trump supporters, not just the cohorts of Democrat supporters who think they should be rewarded for being strident in their opposition to President Trump for the last four years.
It is interesting to disaggregate the Trump support. He was not only supported by white males (Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorables’), but also by a majority of white women and substantial cohorts of African-American and Latino males. It is clear that Mr Biden won the suburbs as well as consolidating the traditional Democrat base of African-American and Latino women. However it is clear that a large proportion of Biden’s record vote consisted of people who just wanted to get rid of Donald Trump. These people may not come out in future elections if Trump is not standing.
Joe Biden needs to make a gesture that could benefit the whole of the United States. The best prospect would be for him to tell Nancy Pelosi to compromise on the stimulus package, so that a bill that provides immediate assistance to people, in trouble because of the recession, can get through the Congress.
This would give President Trump a victory of sorts because he will still be president when the bill is signed into law and it would pacify those Trump supporters who think they have been disenfranchised.
Secondly, the incoming president has to recognize that he will not control the U.S. Senate, which will limit his capacity to implement his legislative program. In these circumstances his best option is to choose a single signature policy that he will concentrate on for the next four years.
The logical policy to concentrate on is ‘Affordable Care’. Vice-President Biden has claimed that he has a program that accepts some of the Trump changes to the Affordable Care Act but also improves on the original Obama legislation. If he is any sort of a bridge builder he will be able to persuade a Republican controlled Senate to negotiate a compromise law.
This will not necessarily please the green-left of the Democratic Party who will hate to see their climate change, black lives matter and green new deal policies jettisoned. Mr Biden may make a token effort with legislation in these areas but he is unlikely to expend much political capital on them.
The other issue that the incoming president will face is getting a cabinet in place. All of his appointments will have to be approved by the Senate and given the treatment, Republican candidates for office, have suffered these candidates will not get an easy ride.
In the circumstances, it is likely that Joe Biden will be seen as a caretaker president, who does his best to smooth the waters pending the arrival of a new regime.