Joe Biden was one of the most boring presidential candidates in my lifetime. This may have been his greatest strength as a politician. As the US was plunged into four crises, voters longed for times to be dull again. Biden was the man for the job. Tasked now with being more than a reprieve from the hectic past four years of the previous president, Biden must guide the country through these difficult times. As president, he must create unity by unfurling a rapid succession of bold and meaningful policies regardless of obstruction by Republicans.
Uniting the majority of the country may involve angering some marginal factions. More people identify as independent than either Republican or Democrat. So while a lot of people are die-hard conservatives or leftists and will oppose policy that doesn’t closely match their ideology, most people will unify behind results that work for them. Forcing the aggressive multi-trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief package as well as a green infrastructure plan through the budget reconciliation process are good first steps. By appealing to the non-partisan majority through passing bold government spending, instead of pandering to attacks by the partisan minority, Biden can unleash the country’s potential for unity.
Crises normally are the best thing to happen to a president’s popularity and the unity of the nation. With competent handling, the President is able to project an image of leadership while the country rallies behind him. The three highest approval ratings ever for a president were for Bush Jr. following 9/11, for Bush Sr. following the Gulf War, and for Truman following the end of World War II. Biden, if he can harness this moment, has the potential to replicate those moments. The country is in a different point than it was in the early 2000s, 1980s, or the 1940s. Despite how unprecedented Trumpism is, the same fundamental forces seem to be at play. No matter the state it’s in, any country longs for a leader in desperate times.
There are more than political and social reasons for using bold, transformative action that flies in the face of Republican challenges. Inaction means lives lost. There can be no messing around, no games about bipartisanship and filibusters. Biden must force through his spending plans, and address the COVID-19 and climate situations or lives will be lost. If the Republicans don’t like it, tough luck. By demonstrating leadership, by saving lives, Biden can unify the country more effectively than pandering to the will of Mitch McConnell.