“Pragmatic and compromising”: Hopes and what to expect from a Biden presidency
Even though the Electoral College has not finalized the vote, people at the university have begun to make predictions for a Biden-Harris administration.
Associate News Editor
On Nov. 7, The Associated Press (AP), among other major news outlets, called the presidential race in Pennsylvania, projecting that former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris would win the election.
According to NPR, Biden and Harris are moving forward with their transition to the Oval Office despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede and his efforts to challenge the fairness of the vote.
Even though the Electoral College has not convened to finalize the vote, many people at the university have begun to make their own predictions for a Biden-Harris administration.
The College Democrats are one such group. They are a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that is a “wide array” of Democrats who look to get involved and engaged in the political process, according to its president, Alexa Adams.
Adams, a senior political science and public policy double major, believes that voters should not expect all of their problems to be solved overnight.
“One action, one law, one administration, is not going to fully solve all of our issues, but I think the Biden-Harris administration can take us in the right direction,” Adams said.
Collin Willard, a junior public policy and history double major and the vice president of College Democrats, said that there is a lot of speculation right now. He also said that given the ongoing runoff races in Georgia, the control of the Senate is still up in the air.
Willard said that regardless of who wins the majority, he expects there to be a lot of negotiating between the moderate senators.
“I think the best way to look at it right now is that there’s a set of priorities that Biden’s looking to push forward, really a set of interest objectives that he thinks are of the utmost concern,” Willard said.
Adams said that Biden and Harris are “great collaborators.” She feels optimistic they will be able to negotiate with Congress on various domestic issues such as climate change and racial injustice and will help to “put America back on the map.”
She believes that Biden and Harris both care about the American people and understand the issues that they face on a daily basis.
“Biden says to ‘Build Back Better,’ and that can involve executive orders,” Adams said. “But it also involves good work with Congress and maintaining contact and moving forward with our allies in the world.”
Adams agrees with many news outlets that Harris becoming the first woman and Black and South Asian vice president is a “historic win.”
“I think that she’s going to be a voice for many in the White House, and I think she’s going to work immensely well with President Biden for the next four years,” Adams said.
Two university professors whose research focus is in political science also offered their opinions about a Biden presidency.
David Redlawsk, a professor of political science and the chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, is concerned that people who are excited Biden won may have “unreasonable expectations” about how quickly things can happen.
Redlawsk believes the Republicans have an edge in Congress but is still unsure of the end result. This, in turn, will make it harder for Biden to pass legislation, according to Redlawsk.
“For the Biden supporters, and in particular progressive Democrats, who get very frustrated when things don’t happen right away, [they need] to recognize that things don’t happen right away,” Redlawsk said. “Biden is going to have to be very pragmatic in order for anything to get through the Senate.”
Daniel Kinderman, an associate professor of political science, thinks that a Biden presidency would be a mix between former President Barack Obama’s policies and the more progressive agenda of Biden and Harris.
“I expect it at the very least to be Obama 3.0 [and] possibly more progressive than that,” Kinderman said.
Kinderman believes that there will be a return to multilateralism under Biden. According to Merriam-Webster, “multilateralism” is a philosophy that states “the best solutions generally result when as many of the world’s nations as possible are involved in discussions.” Kinderman mentioned that the European Union has been rather unhappy with the “America First” policies seen during the Trump administration. Even though countries have their own interests, they try to work together, Kinderman went on to say.
Redlawsk believes that Trump’s “America First” ideology is really about cutting the country off from the rest of the world.
“[Trump is] a xenophobe; he doesn’t like the rest of the world other than how they do business,” Redlawsk said. “And he’s highly transactional. So, now you have an incoming president who is essentially the exact opposite of that.”
Kinderman said that Biden’s multilateralism will not immediately restore relations to where they were pre-2016 but will at least reopen the door to diplomatic discussions. Willard thinks that Biden will reunite the country with its allies, particularly NATO and the European Union.
“Biden is seen as someone who’s able to negotiate and compromise,” Kinderman said. “Trump is a negotiator, but he’s often happy to walk away from the deal.”
Willard said that Biden should be able to “turn the temperature down” between the United States and China, especially since the former vice president met with Chinese President Xi Jinping several times.
Adams believes that Biden will be able to restore collaboration with foreign allies, particularly on climate change.
“We have to collaborate with other nations in the world to make sure that we save this planet before it’s too late,” Adams said. “Reentering the Paris Climate Deal is just one step in the right direction. But it’s not the last [step]. It’s just the beginning.”’
For the time being, however, Trump’s handling of his loss in the election has posed concerns among some Americans and other nations as well. Willard said he believes that the integrity of the United States’ leadership across the world has been undermined due to Trump refusing to concede the election.
“The past century or so, the U.S. has framed itself as a supporter of democracy, as someone who will intervene because of democracy,” Willard said. “By Trump [refusing to concede] in the way that he’s doing, it tells everyone that we don’t have the principles that we said we had.”
According to Redlawsk, a lot can be done with executive orders and both Trump and Obama “really pushed” the boundaries of what can and cannot be done via executive order. Redlawsk expects that Biden will prepare a list of executive orders to revoke the ones Trump made.
Willard also expects that Biden will “at least attempt” to make a lot of executive orders and carry out decisions through the executive administration.
“I’m sure [the Biden administration] will move quickly on Dreamers and DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and on extending their status, and I’m sure they will move quickly on various environmental orders,” Redlawsk said.
Adams, Willard, Redlawsk and Kinderman all agreed that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic should be the highest priority for Biden and Harris.
Willard expects there will be a new stimulus package during the “first six months or so” of Biden’s presidency. He believes that the Biden administration would fit in as much as possible, making it a very large spending bill.
“I imagine the focus will be a lot on small businesses and making sure that actual working people feel the impact of whatever stimulus comes in,” Willard said. “Not just giving it to corporations.”
Willard, who is a research fellow at the Institute for Public Administration, said the organization hosted a Zoom webinar on Nov. 18 at 12 p.m. The event discussed in detail what the election results mean for the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in Delaware.
Adams said that the incoming administration’s first order of business should be putting out a plan for how to deal with the coronavirus with a focus on getting people back to work and kids back to school safely. She believes that once the Biden-Harris plan is put out, the country can “finally start moving past the pandemic.”
Redlawsk believes that “everything else really hangs on this pandemic.” He said even a coronavirus vaccine would be a huge logistical issue but that the government does have a lot of power to manage the process.
“The Trump administration has pretty much just played hands-off and blamed everyone else,” Redlawsk said. “What a Biden administration will do is try to take control, particularly with the logistics of the whole thing.”
Kinderman believes that the coronavirus will be a major challenge for Biden, especially with the rapidly rising number of cases around the world.
“Even countries [that] have done pretty well at managing COVID are running into serious problems,” Kinderman said.
Kinderman and Redlawsk both said the economy is heavily dependent upon getting the pandemic under control but are optimistic Biden is up to the task.
“Because states and local governments cannot run deficits, as they begin their next budget planning we may see massive cuts in employment and services from that level of government, which also happened in 2008,” Redlawsk said. “That’s a big part of why it took so long to recover.”
Though Biden states that he wants to help overcome systemic racism and help unify the country, Kinderman believes that he needs to bring other constituencies on board with the idea, particularly the “disaffected, white working class voters.”
This group is one of Trump’s core constituencies, so Kinderman hopes that Biden has some strategies to be able to appease this group. Kinderman does not believe this constituency is racist but said that they are often “in tension” with each other.
Kinderman hopes that Biden has “some tricks up his sleeve” and will be able to achieve what he wants to so that the country will, in fact, heal.
“If Joe Biden cannot bring the country together, I think it’s very bleak — the country is either going to divide or even fall apart,” Kinderman said. “Otherwise … this is probably something I shouldn’t say … we’re f—ed.”
Redlawsk said that America’s future with President Joe Biden is something worth thinking about, especially for voters and others not active in politics.
“No one is going to get everything they want, and no one is going to lose everything that they think they’re going to lose,” Redlawsk said. “It just doesn’t work that way for the most part. Governing is hard and it requires a lot of compromise. Being pragmatic and compromising is actually how you get things done in the American [political] system.”
Editor’s Note: Collin Willard briefly covered sports for The Review. He no longer has any affiliation with the paper and last wrote for us in October of 2019. Willard left The Review as he obtained a leadership position with a partisan group.