The Task Of A Good Loser24 January 2021
What for Donald Trump was an insult, for Joe Biden is an acknowledgment: the new president of the United States is the establishment in its purest form. No other similar case is remembered of having reached the presidency with a better preparation. For almost half a century he has been "inside the beltway." It is the sector occupied by the District of Columbia, which claims to be recognized as a state, surrounded by a huge highway. Biden would be perfectly accepted as a traffic guard, without passing the exam.
But as he will settle at his desk in the Oval Office, as soon as he would open the folders smeared by the previous White House tenant, he will be horrified. The agenda that awaits him is a challenge for the innate ritualism of the perennial senator from Delaware. But he won't be daunted by the task.
He has a paradoxical advantage over his predecessor: Biden is a good loser. A similar case of enthusiasm in betting on the presidency is not detected in recent memory. He has been rejected in previous attempts for the nomination of his party.
On the domestic agenda, Biden must try to clarify the current state of America's everlasting and elusive identity. Never since Huntington's suicide attempt by applying his thesis of the clash of civilizations to the core of American identity, no one has inflicted a similar wound to the American soul.
Biden will have to correct the doubt that to be a citizen of the United States you only need to want to be. Trump dangerously questioned it. To verify this nonsense, you only have to inspect the data of the vast majority of the assailants in Congress. That impression is also replicated by a global portrait of an uncomfortable majority of Trump's more than 70 million voters.
The United States, which is an idea, not a country, must be resurrected by Biden. Trump acted like some kind of evil prince who kissed a sleeping witch. Biden will return her to eternal sleep. In turn, he will choose to rescue from kidnapping the beautiful princess who was silent for four years.
As it will be seen through the rest of the impeachment process, Biden must ensure internal security with a balanced message of toughness against any violation of the law. Leaving a crass example of insurrection unpunished would be a fatal mistake.
To straighten the nature of the social fabric, once and for all, Biden will do well to fulfill his project of facilitating the passage to legal residency and citizenship for the millions immigrants in limbo. They are already within the country.
A different problem is how to deal with the ones who are opting for desperate marches towards the border. Biden will have to made deals with Mexico to cooperate.
Ironically, this pressure from immigration is at the same time the given certification of the strength of the United States. The minute no one would like to migrate to the heart of the country, the United States would cease to exist.
Looking at the prospects for the 2022 election, Biden will have to lead his strong electorate in order to make the current results in Congress and Senate to consolidate and grow. It will depend on the perception that the new measures that have been implemented are not lost.
Abroad, as part of the swift return to multilateralism, Biden must accelerate the recovery of sidelined officials in the State Department. At the same time, he will have to replace the multitude of directly appointed ambassadors by true professionals. In this diplomatic terrain, Europe must be given urgent priority.
The external face of the United States must send a clear message to Putin that the courtship with Trump is over. For Washington, the message should be that cooperation with the European Union and the consistency of NATO are above personal whims. Biden will also have to end the ambiguity about the relationship with the uncomfortable medieval Arab monarchies. Same about the support for the current Israeli government. China should receive a clear message.
In Latin America, Biden will have to proceed with caution. If the new wave of "pink" regimes is confirmed, driven by the disgust of the electorates in the face of government disasters, crime and corruption, Biden would do well to treat each case individually.
It is not ruled out that he will proceed to toughen the relationship with Venezuela, but he will probably choose to a subtle reestablishment of Obama's policy towards Cuba. The hardening of attitude towards Havana generally reinforces the tough reaction of the Cuban government. The result is that the most affected continue to be the long-suffering Cuban citizens.
And if Biden does not succeed in some of those chapters of the busy schedule, as a "good loser", he will take note and opt to correct the defects and end successfully his presidency. And then - why not? - opt for a re-election, or at least hand over the power to Kamala Harris.
(Joaquin Roy is "Jean Monnet" professor and Director of the European Union Centre of the University of Miami).