The 46th president of the United States needs to grapple with multi-tiered crises at home and reestablish ties with vital allies in Europe and beyond. Gino de la Paz looks at some of the challenges facing the new administration following four years of chronic political chaos and a rocky transition of power.
“Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” Joe Biden said in his inaugural address. After being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States in January, he reminded those present that there is “much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.” The message of hope for unity was a sign that the American people had begun to turn a corner.
Finally, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, African American and South Asian American to assume the office, sensible adults are back in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The tenor of their grammatically complete sentences – delivered with neither boast nor bluster – brings back leadership, civility and common decency to US politics. After living through the four-year tantrum of “a child that you hate,” to quote the British-American comedian John Oliver, business as usual is an immense relief.
Mission: reverse the damage wrought by an American Nero
While Biden’s first day in the Oval Office was a success, shaping a meaningful presidency following a rocky transition of power will probably take more than booking Lady Gaga to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A burning Rome populated by tens of millions primed for mass hysteria awaits the new commander-in-chief. This is thanks to a predecessor who peddled unsubstantiated facts as his business model and employed strategic vandalism as his leitmotif.
To grapple with converging, multi-tiered crises – from a raging pandemic, a climate emergency and systemic racism, to economic inequality, a growing anti-democratic movement and a tarnished hegemony – Biden must summon shrewd political skill in forging successful policy responses.
Alas, his every move will be misreported by a right-wing media machine still comically loyal to their tribal overlord. Young, progressive Democrats, meanwhile, want a warrior – Biden is a dealmaker. The former will never get over the America that could have been, with Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing TikTok dances in the White House of their wettest, wildest dreams.
The upside for Biden? His background and experience should enable him to withstand this crucible for the ages. The downside? Partisan fury will make solving America’s problems, like, a total struggle. Somewhere, a pool of overcaffeinated writers is already turning this scenario into an episode of “The Simpsons.”
Rebuilding trade bridges with the EU won’t be easy
For us in Europe, Biden kicking off his presidency was a cue to exhale. That said, J.Lo’s “Let’s get loud!” shouldn’t be taken as a thumbs up to completely unclench just yet.
Economic tensions between the US and the EU remain high. The previous administration placed billions of dollars in tariffs on European goods, targetting products from cheese, olive oil and various jams to steel and aluminium. Disputes over aviation subsidies and tech taxes will not be settled right away either.
If there was ever a perfect moment to soothe nerves about the state of free trade across the Atlantic, it should’ve been around now. Instead, Biden’s “Buy American” executive order – which prioritises US federal government purchases of US-manufactured items over foreign-made ones – looks set to achieve the opposite.
Yes, Biden won, but don’t expect a revolution
“Working cooperatively with other nations that share our values and goals does not make the United States a chump. It makes us more secure and more successful,” Biden wrote in 2020. But reestablishing America’s ties with vital allies – especially Germany and France, both rankled by He Who Must Not Be Named and his aggressive trade approach – is easier said than done. German Chancellor Angela Merkel once said her country could no longer count on America to help impose world order.
Nonetheless, EU leaders are relieved that Biden is in power as his welcome centrism allows for the proper environment to repair, renew and redefine US-EU relations. “This new dawn in America is the moment we have been waiting for for so long,” said President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyen. “Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner.”
In terms of being able to negotiate deals, Biden is possibly the best thing apart from an actual European in the White House. Again, however, Number 46 has his work cut out for him. The United States and its closest European buddies still don’t see eye to eye on a number of key issues, from China and Venezuela to trade. Similar to his vow to unite a deeply divided America, Biden’s challenge to regain trans-Atlantic trust will be a step-by-step process, not a sudden revolution.
Gino de la Paz is a senior copywriter who sides with the registered Democrats on his mother’s side of the family. He really misses precedented times.
The Miltton Futures event series continued with a discussion on Joe Biden’s United States and the opportunities and challenges it offers Nordic businesses. We discussed the trends and policies that will impact every business in the world with international business leaders and experts immersed in the U.S. market.
Watch the recording of the event here:
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