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The Impending Predicament for Joe Biden

Pendhamma Sindhusen is a conservative columnist and political analyst.

President-elect Joe Biden leaves after speaking at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on December 28, 2020.

President-elect Joe Biden leaves after speaking at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on December 28, 2020.

The December electoral college vote made it official. Joe Biden has defeated incumbent president Donald Trump by 306 to 232 votes. The septuagenarian former vice president will soon be inaugurated into the Oval Office on January 20, 2021, fulfilling his long-held aspiration after 2 of his endeavors failed in 1988 and 2008. The possibility of a Biden presidency that Republicans dreaded and many Democrats craved is now a sheer certainty.

Democrats are elatedly celebrating Biden's victory that has conferred to them an opportunity to once again pursue their political agenda after a 4-year hiatus under Trump and offered them reprieve from the tumult of Trumpism. Granted, their hope now is for politics to return to normalcy and for Biden to be able to govern. Nevertheless, that hope seems to be a long shot. Biden may have won the White House, but there is a tremendous trouble looming.

This year's election season featured much of a political anomaly; despite the Democratic presidential nominee triumphing in both the popular vote and the electoral college, Democrats down-ballot did not benefit from his coattails. Virtually every swing House district has gone to Republicans as the Democratic House majority thins. The GOP also swept state legislatures and picked up one additional governorship while defending the rest.

Meanwhile, several precarious Republican-held senate seats like ones in North Carolina and Montana that Democrats eyed were retained in the Republican corner as the GOP is on track to win at least one senate runoff in Georgia and thus control of the Senate. In short, Republicans' grip over state governments has tightened, as likely will theirs over the upper chamber of Congress.

This represents a substantial threat to Biden's governance as president, especially with the far-left fraction of his party growing in prominence and pushing for bold policies to be enacted under the Biden-Harris administration. Cooperation from the states over issues like healthcare, education and gun rights is very much off the table. Constitutional amendments for things like modifying the Supreme Court suggested by some leftist scholars and politicians also now seem to be a mere daydream.

For Democrats, as long as Mitch McConnell remains the majority leader of the Senate, the prospect of realizing their political goals is bleak. Despite Biden's relatively warm relationship with the Kentuckian Republican, Mcconnell is shrewd and ruthless. His nickname, the "Grim Reaper", was not coined out of thin air.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accompanied by Republican members of the Senate, speaking at a news conference in Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on November 16, 2016.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accompanied by Republican members of the Senate, speaking at a news conference in Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on November 16, 2016.

If either David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler (or both) wins re-election, Biden will likely have to long for Mcconnell's Machiavellian mercy and the adequacy of their goodwill towards one another in order to get a bill passed or a nominee confirmed. Of course, the two can negotiate deals through like they did during the Obama era, and they will probably have to do so again to at least get things moving. But do not expect too many legislative victories for the Democrats to come out of it. Remember the last 2 years of Barack Obama's second term?

Now, many would point to Nancy Pelosi's House speakership as a potential leverage for Biden. But Biden should not bank on that too much. Come January 2021, Democrats will be holding the slimmest House majority of any party in decades. Coupled with the schism between the traditionally liberal and the surging progressive wings of the party that has already featured multiple internecine fights, Pelosi will be leading a loosely cohering coalition of Biden loyalists and a petulant faction seeking more overarching reforms. While that is better for Biden than having a Republican Congress, it is not ideal whatsoever for his legislative agenda.

Such a dilemma for Biden would exhort him to act through executive orders the same way Obama did in the later half of his second term. Given that, conservatives, as well as some moderates exasperated by Biden’s potentially expansive and overreaching use of EOs and the Democratic party’s lurch to the left, would unite in opposition and provide Republicans a fertile ground to win back control of the federal legislature.

Democrats would have to suffer an electoral recoil in 2022, and as the new session of Congress gavels in, Biden would become a lame duck president. He or anyone he anoints to carry his torch and run in 2024 would likely face a tough challenge.

To be fair, Biden could still carry out his mission and fulfill his pledge. Maybe he could even have a cooperative Congress if both of the Democratic senate candidates win in Georgia and some moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski vote out of lockstep with their party. However, provided the current conditions, such expectations may be too ambitious.

When January arrives, Biden will likely find himself negotiating with Mitch McConnell to push through legislations and nominations and working with Nancy Pelosi to quell the quarrel within their party. His presidency will probably be neutered, and with all that, he could as well follow Trump’s footsteps to become a one-term president. But all the negativity of this impending predicament for Biden aside, there is still room for optimism and a brilliant Biden presidency. So, let us wish well for the president-elect and hope for the best.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Pendhamma Sindhusen