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Explained Ideas: What to expect from the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration

From mending the economy to soothing racial discord and from arresting inner-party factions to striking deals with the Republicans, Biden will have to be America’s healer-in-chief, writes Bhaskar Chakravorti.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 15, 2020 12:33:46 pm
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Biden Harris administration, US election, Election news, Indian ExpressJoe Biden with Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo: Carolyn Kaster, File)

Joe Biden, the US president-elect inherits a sobering reality: An incompetent, megalomaniacal, corrupt, racist, misogynist, unprincipled and pathological liar is still favoured by 71 million Americans.

In his opinion piece, Bhaskar Chakravorti, who is the Dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, states that “Biden will need healing superpowers to get through his first hundred days”.

Here are some wounds in need of urgent care and what the “healer-in-chief” might do, according to Chakravorti.

Biden will have to stick a band-aid across the divided government that reflects a divided nation. If the Senate remains in Republican hands, it will do everything to undermine him. Getting anything done will require horse-trading, manipulation and shoulder-massaging.

“Having spent 36 years in the Senate, Biden is ideally cast for this role. It also helps that he has got that shoulder-massaging thing down to an art form,” writes Chakravorti. “(Biden) should consider naming a Republican or two to his cabinet to win some bipartisan love,” he states.

Biden’s band-aids will be needed within his own fractured coalition. The progressive wing of the Democratic party, particularly the younger activists, led by the electrifying Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have held their noses while Biden gets past Election Day. They don’t see eye-to-eye with his centrist policies.

“Given the close election, it is likely that the progressives will have less clout, but it will be a mistake to sideline the party’s high-energy wing,” states Chakravorti.

Biden’s healing will be in demand after the summer of protests over the wretched state of racial justice in America. “Sadly, racism is systemic and Joe Biden is not the man to overturn a system,” notes Chakravorti, but influential black leaders, such as Stacey Abrams, ought to be elevated to key roles.

On foreign policy, Biden will, no doubt, send out curative smoke signals — from the Paris climate accord or the World Health Organisation to coalitions against adversaries.

Also read | Explained ideas: How India’s Election Commission passed the Covid-19 test

Biden will have to heal a battered economy. “He must cajole Senate Republicans to come along and permit fiscal spending; otherwise, we can expect to see more financial instability in the US and global markets”. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

“Biden’s most immediate healing act would be to fix America’s shoddy response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he states. Biden has appointed a task force, but the devil lurks in the details. In 2021, the logistics of vaccination will bring fresh challenges.

As far as India goes, Kamala Harris will wield influence. “She will charm India, but may be less charmed by Modi policies, particularly regarding Kashmir,” concludes Chakravorti.

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