Biden wins. Then what?

Biden wins. Then what?

Here’s what a new President ought to do in the first two weeks to put the US on a fundamentally new course, not the least in terms of White House dignity and a new foreign policy

Andrew Bacevich

Assume Joe Biden wins the presidency. Assume as well that he genuinely intends to repair the damage our country has sustained since we declared ourselves history’s “Indispensable Nation,” compounded by the traumatic events of 2020 that demolished whatever remnants of that claim survived. Assume, that is, that this aging career politician and creature of the Washington establishment really intends to salvage something of value from all that has been lost.

If he seriously intends to be more than a relic of pre-Trump liberal centrism, how exactly should President Biden go about making his mark?
Here, free of charge, Joe, is an action plan that will get you from Election Night through your first two weeks in office. Follow this plan and by your 100th day in the White House observers will be comparing you to at least one President Roosevelt, if not both.

On Election Night (or whatever date you are declared the winner): Close down your Twitter account. Part of your job, Joe, is to restore some semblance of dignity to the office of the presidency. Twitter and similar social media platforms are a principal source of the coarseness and malice that today permeate American politics. Remove yourself from that ugliness.

Your predecessor transformed a presidency that had acquired imperial pretensions into an office best described as a cesspool of grotesque demagoguery. One of your central tasks will be to model a genuine alternative: a presidency appropriate for a constitutional republic, where reason, candor, and a commitment to the common good really do prevail over partisan name-calling. That’s a lot to ask for, but returning to a more traditional conception of the Bully Pulpit would certainly be a place to start.

During the transition: Direct your press secretary to announce that on January 20th there will be no ritzy Inaugural balls. Take your cues from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inauguration for his fourth term in office, a distinctly low-key event…

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The author

Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he received his PhD in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty of Boston University, he taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins. More here.

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One Response to "Biden wins. Then what?"

  1. F Jahanpour   August 20, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    This is an excellent list of suggestions that if implemented would put the United States on the right road. However, I would add a few suggestions mainly in military and foreign policy issues:

    Day 15: Ask Congress to cut the Pentagon’s funds by 50%. Even with a 50% cut the Pentagon would still have the biggest military budget in the world.

    Day 16: Send a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling him that the United States respects its commitments to various USSC resolutions on the status of Jerusalem and a final peace accord. He should be told that continued US support depends on Israel respecting UN resolutions & working for a two-state solution or a unitary democratic state without apartheid rules
    Day 17: Send a message to the GCC leaders telling them that USA does not need their bribes anymore. They should stop wasting their money on sophisticated weapons. Instead, they should spend their money on their own people a large number of whom, especially the guest workers, live in poverty. In order to ensure their collective security, they should join a regional security pact, which should also include Iran & Iraq, and should introduce some democratic reforms at home.

    Day 18: Send a message to Iranian leaders telling them that the United States will honour the JCPOA, will lift all sanctions in keeping with the Security Council Resolution 2231, will not interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs in keeping with US promises in the Algiers Accord. Having restored the nuclear deal, the United States would look forward to use this deal as a base for more far-reaching agreements on cultural, scientific, economic and political cooperation. That would be the best way to move Iran towards more cooperation with the West and greater freedom and democracy at home.


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