Pendhamma Sindhusen is an independent political columnist and analyst.
The fate has been sealed for Former Vice President Joe Biden; at noon on January 20, he was inaugurated president of the United States. A new Biden administration is now in charge after a 4-year tumult under Donald Trump. As much as many Americans and global citizens eagerly expected such a momentous change, one cannot refrain from the query “how will the Biden presidency unfold?”
Since the first day of his campaigning, Biden has positioned himself as a more moderate Democrat carrying the torch of Barack Obama and hoping to restore normalcy to America’s political governance. In a sense, the Trump presidency brought ceaseless uncertainties and upheavals and Biden’s leadership seems promising for the termination of such conditions. He has solidly pledged to undo many of Trump’s disruptions, and his track record as a seasoned politician having worked in both the legislative and executive branches starkly contrasts with Trump’s unconventional backgrounds that enabled capricious and often shocking political conducts.
Nevertheless, one should not place their confidence in the possibility of a return to normalcy under Biden without running a substantial risk of disappointment. The world of politics seems to have reached a volatile point where resentment and division have gotten ahold of both sides and ideologues far outnumber those willing to compromise. Violent demonstrations and vociferous recriminations from the right and the left nowadays are a perfect testament to that.
An America where a large portion of the population almost constituting its half reject the legitimacy of his election while another demonize them as accomplices in his predecessor’s demagoguery and controversial policy is an America that demands so much from the new president for any attempt at unity and healing to succeed. Despite his best rhetoric in recent months, it is highly doubtful whether the people will embrace solidarity and tone down their political hostility, especially with Trumpism still an active force and Trump himself impeached.
Never before in history was a president elected to confront an ongoing impeachment of their predecessor. Biden is apparently in an uncharted territory where whichever option he chooses, whether he allows Trump to face the consequences of his actions to the fullest or whether he pardons him for the sake of moving on, is indubitably going to incur outrage. Besides, the impeachment proceedings early in his term are likely to overshadow any substantive policy agenda and swamp Congress with an immense amount of work that impedes its ability to govern.
Meanwhile, Congress itself will also be an impediment. Yes, the Democrats have retained their grip over the House and even achieved a majority in the Senate. A government trifecta is in place for Biden, and such a provision may cause those rooting for his success to salivate. However, closely considering the matter, the salivation needs to be seriously withheld.
Instead of expanding, the Democratic majority in the House has contracted to the smallest size in almost a century, and with the schism between the increasingly outspoken progressive and the traditionally liberal wings of the party growing, one cannot expect much advance for Biden’s legislative agenda. The extremely slim Democratic majority in the Senate even compounds that. Although an impressive improvement from last year when Republicans were in control, a 50-50 is outright precarious for the president’s dream of passing a bill or confirming his nomination. Senate protocols like the filibuster, which requires a minimum of 60 votes to break, as well as the presence of the comparatively conservative Joe Manchin among the Democrats, can easily torpedo progress.
This potential gridlock is likely to direct Biden to the lame-duck route, like Barack Obama in the later half of his second term. His most viable choice of realizing his goals is to act via executive orders, which will possibly raise problems. Conservatives who are neither fond of big governments nor Biden himself can be galvanized on the grounds of an executive overreach by the president and haul the judiciary into the fray, which would be an utter misfortune for him.
One of Trump’s most significant and lasting legacies is incontrovertibly his judicial appointments. During his time in the White House, hundreds of judges were appointed, including 3 to the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority can handily strike down any controversial executive order or legislation, if Congressional Democrats manage to enact one.
Such a combination of threats are a recipe for a highly dangerous and onerous toil for Biden. On one front, he has to tackle the tempest of public opinion while on another, a political stalemate within the government. Of course, this is merely a speculation, and it only outlines possibility and not certainty. But the fact that the political climate during his presidency is going to be devoid of clemency needs to be taken seriously. If one thing is for sure, it is that the path for the Biden presidency will be treacherous. So, no matter what side we are on, for the sake of graciousness and the greater good, let us wish well the 46th president of the United States and hope for the best.
© 2021 Pendhamma Sindhusen
Sharlee on February 05, 2021:
Wonderful article, no bias what so ever, filled with great common sense.