It’s official: after having carried Pennsylvania, Joe Biden has won the US election and will be the 46th President of the United States. Although he failed to live up to pollster’s predictions of a major landslide, it really does feel like a breath of fresh air and there is so much to be optimistic about, especially for those of us passionate about liberty.
What’s clear is that this election marks a turning point; it’s a move away from the divisive politics that defined the previous decade. During his first speech as President-elect, Biden declared that he ‘sought this office to restore the soul of America’, and to ‘make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home’.
After four years of angry tweets, inflammatory comments, and provocative policies, it seems that American voters have finally opted for a more grown-up, professional leader that will bring the nation together at a time where it is needed most.
Biden was a great choice for the Democratic Party and the nation as a whole. He’s an experienced politician with centrist views, exactly what most voters have signalled they want. He made it clear from the very start, despite what Trump claimed, that he was not a socialist and would begin to rebuild America’s trading relations with the world. It’s perhaps telling that Democratic Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger warned members of her party never to use the word ‘socialism’ again. For lovers of freedom and many readers of this site, this seems like a pretty good thing. (See article).
Even if the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party is able to influence overall policy, it will be difficult to carry out given that Republicans are set to control the Senate. This will make it difficult to implement the ‘big ticket’ items on their agenda: Medicare for all, tax-rises, a ‘green new deal’. What it will mean, however, is that both parties will have to co-operate to implement sensible policy that will benefit all Americans whilst taking costs and benefits into consideration. Throughout his time as Vice-President, building a political consensus was arguably one of his strengths.
Even if Republicans do control the Senate, his hands won’t be completely tied. He will be able to focus on improving existing policy and rebuilding America’s damaged international image, recognising that continuing the trade war with China will do little other than to impoverish everyday Americans, as Jethro Elsden writes in CapX. Instead, this is Biden’s chance to strengthen the US’s relationship with key allies: Europe, Britain, Japan, Korea, etc. This will also enable America to deal with other global issues: climate change (he’s already signalled that the US will re-join the Paris Climate Accord), terrorism, and of course, coronavirus and future pandemics.
Biden has also committed to re-join the World Health Organisation and to remove the travel ban on certain Muslim-majority states. An administration that recognises the economic and moral case for immigration will allow the US to recover a lot more quickly from the ongoing crisis that the country currently faces.
There’s another excellent reason to be optimistic. Aside from the Presidential and Senate races, a number of states had local ballot measures with promising results. Voters across several states overwhelmingly voted to end the disastrous policy of drug prohibition: with five states voting to legalise marijuana, and Oregon decriminalising all drugs and legalising psilocybin therapy. This will greatly benefit everyone in those states, but more importantly, it could pave the way for a further dismantling of the ‘war on drugs’, perhaps influencing policymakers abroad to change policy when the evidence becomes clear on this issue.
The failure of California’s Proposition 21 at the ballot box shows that voters recognise rent control won’t solve the issue of a chronic under-supply of housing in the Golden State, and could imply that the political will is there to make real changes addressing the root cause. In Mississippi, voters approved a new, rather beautiful, flag to replace their current flag (which contains the Confederate symbol), and in Illinois, the flat tax will remain.
America faces many challenges: its politics remains extremely partisan, the nation was one of the worst-hit by coronavirus, and its economy faced a substantial hit as a result of lockdowns to curb virus spread. We can only hope that by bringing the nation together, rejecting extremes from both sides of the debate, and by working closely with its international allies, the land of liberty will be able to overcome them. Biden is the best shot that America has at achieving this.