By Rudy Barnes, Jr.
If voters evict Trump from the White House in November--and that’s still a big if--can a Biden/Harris administration promote a politics of reconciliation for America’s polarized partisan politics? Only if an ambitious Kamala Harris doesn’t pander to leftist Democrats to promote her own presidential ambitions at the expense of a centrist Biden administration.
Biden can provide America with a four-year breathing spell, and a reborn GOP could offer a future alternative to an increasingly leftist Democratic Party. Since Biden will likely be a one-term president, a centrist GOP will have to rise from the defeated party’s ashes, or a third party will have to fill the political vacuum to end America’s polarized partisan politics.
In the meantime, what would a Biden/Harris administration look like? Until November Harris will undoubtedly present a picture of harmony with Biden, supporting his campaign with criticism of Trump and his Republican minions. Harris will probably wait until well after Biden’s inauguration in January 2021 before she begins her own presidential campaign for 2024.
After the inauguration we will see whether Biden and Harris are on the same page. The Republican Party will be in a shambles, providing an opportunity for Biden to promote a politics of reconciliation, but his success will depend on the composition of the new Congress and on whether Harris continues to support a centrist Biden, or chooses to do her own thing.
Kamala Harris is the darling of an increasingly leftist Democratic Party and Joe Biden represents the more centrist Democratic Party of the past. Biden knows he cannot bridge partisan differences with a leftist political agenda, and that to promote a politics of reconciliation in Congress he will need Harris to help him maintain Democratic support for his centrist agenda.
Biden is between a rock and a hard place. He knows he needs the support of Kamala Harris and the Democratic Party to promote a bipartisan political agenda. That support will depend on whether Harris continues to support Biden or begins her own campaign for president during his term; and that remains an open question.
Trump has to run on his record, while Biden must provide a vision of the future. Biden must address a pandemic economy with a massive national debt and Fed policies that have propped up a booming stock market while creating vast disparities in wealth. Biden must also redefine racial justice, find a way to end police brutality and promote racial reconciliation, while avoiding those objectives of Black Lives Matter that would further polarize race relations.
Both political parties have had their conventions. The Democrats celebrated the integrity and experience of Joe Biden while Republicans did a make-over of Donald Trump that rivaled his glorification by white evangelicals as their political messiah in 2016. The race is on, with truth and justice the major issues; and the future of American democracy hangs in the balance.
Daniel B.Baer has opined that The Democrats Stole the Republicans’ Turf. “This week’s Democratic National Convention ...rejected the false premise that in order to run a politically viable campaign, Democrats needed to abandon the party’s focus on fairness. Democrats chose to position the party to speak for all Americans, rather than obsessing about how to speak to particular Americans.” See https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/20/democratic-convention-dnc-biden-trump/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=24438&utm_term=Flashpoints%20OC&?tpcc=24438.
Jim Rieger recalled 1989 to consider how Two men shaped by a different era are vying to lead America through a reckoning. “On Sept. 5, 1989, Donald Trump and Joe Biden appeared on nationally televised broadcasts that aired less than an hour apart, both making statements that were revealing about the legacies they were creating on issues of race. Biden that night criticized then-President George H.W. Bush for being too soft on crime, and Trump told NBC News that “well-educated” Blacks have an “advantage” in business. Now, 31 years later, their handling of race will converge in a bigger way: during a presidential campaign in which the issue of race is more central than at any point since 1968. As the largest civil unrest in U.S. history plays out, more Americans than at any point since 1968 say race relations is the most important problem facing the country.” See Seehttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/14/trump-biden-race/?arc404=true.
Kathlene Parker described the election as a choice between Donald Trump--and Kamala Harris. “Biden, at 78, would be older than Ronald Reagan was when he left the presidency. If 78 seems old for a grueling job known to turn younger men gray, imagine what it will feel like at the end of the first term, when he will be 82. But, of course, age matters a great deal when the presidency is at stake. Even if Biden serves out his full term, it is unlikely he will run again, which means Harris will run for president in 2024 and, though it is impossible to know for sure, likely emerge in that circumstance as the front-runner for the Democrats.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/08/14/trump-biden-race/?arc404=true.
Max Boot has compared Trump’s reliance on grifters and misfits with Biden bringing an A Team. See
Robert Samuelson has noted Biden’s challenge on economic issues and a massive national debt with a trillion here and a trillion there--pretty soon it’s real money! See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-trillion-here-and-a-trillion-there--pretty-soon-its-real-money/2020/08/23/31ccaf78-e3d2-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_todays_headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_headlines.
On the issues of race and the economy, see the following recent commentaries:
(8//8/20): Musings on Religion and Racism: Belief in a White Jesus and White Supremacy
(8/15/20): Musings on Racism, Reparations, Racial Disparities and the Federal Reserve
(8/22/20): Musings on America’s Two Economies: One for the Rich and One for the Rest