What’s Next- Joe Biden’s Election Leads to an Uncertain Future

James Van Bramer

Joe Biden became the projected winner of the presidency on November 7th, after winning Pennsylvania, leading many Democrats to celebrate the defeat of Trump more than the victory of Biden.

Democrats were able to breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in four years. Democrats of all affiliations spewed out emotions and began to rejoice in the victory. The goal seemed all along to remove Trump more than having the right man to replace him.

Now that Biden proceeds to be his successor, the dial moves to Biden and what he can undo from the past administration.

Ross Barkan, author, journalist, and former political candidate, echoed the significance of Trump in the election. Along with detailing the challenge for Biden to get the nation to coalesce.

“Unlike Barack Obama, Joe Biden did not command an enthusiastic personal following,” Barkan said via email. “He wasn’t breaking any barriers and he was very familiar to the public.”

To Barkan, Biden’s following was a result of limited choice. Even though Biden had a name, people were not jumping at the bits to support him. Nevertheless, Barkan mentioned that restoring the nation by reversing the work of the past administration might serve Biden well.

“Obama’s pitch in 2008 was ‘hope and change’ while Biden offered to ‘restore the soul of the nation,’ a return to relative normalcy following the Trump years if such a thing is possible,” Barkan said. “That pitch resonated with a lot of Democrats who despised Donald Trump. It was well-tailored to the moment. Turnout was remarkable but should be understood as a phenomenon driven entirely by Trump, who is the most polarizing politician in modern political history.”

Still, while many Republicans came out to vote for Trump, some voted against him, and not because they felt strongly about Biden. And Biden appears to be doing himself no favors by shutting off the far-left of his party.

Trump was the most bizarre president of our time. However, Biden has continued a stance of remaining disciplined despite many asking for him to become more progressive, which left fear for Democrats of not having a clean enough break from the Trump administration.

The cabinet selections from Biden have already exemplified his stance on standing moderate and refuting an opportunity to open arms to progressives.

The nomination of Neera Tanden was incredibly discouraging for progressive Democrats, given her heavy critique of Bernie Sanders. While many of his selections were unsurprising, Barkan deemed this nomination “deeply alienating to much of the left.”

Biden has an uphill battle in uniting the nation, but his focus must begin on his party.

Voters like Daisy Nunez, a John Jay student and community liaison in her Bronx neighborhood. She did not initially support Biden, but without her and other progressives, Biden would have lost to Trump.

Nunez said that Biden defeating Trump was not enough. “I am glad Trump is gone, but I have moved past it,” she said. “We moved in a positive direction, but potentially not the right direction.”

Biden is moderate, but to avoid making himself contentious amongst his party, he needs to satisfy voters like Nunez, which may call for him to support some progressive policies.

Biden has far more work to do to shift the celebration toward him as his inauguration nears. The election was far too competitive, and too many Democrats are not keen on him being the nation’s leader.

He needs become more progressive, while remaining true to his moderate roots. Or he runs the risks of losing the support of progressives and moderates alike.

Moderate voters such as Angie Avitable, a Lovett Co. office worker, backed Biden shortly after Jim Clyburn reminded moderate voters about Biden when he said we know Joe, which was a vital turning point in the Democratic primary.

She feels confident in health care bringing the party together. “Biden has to reach everyone willing and able,” she said. “Especially with the pandemic and the emphasis on Trump trying to remove Obamacare, achieving his sought out public option can unite the party significantly.”

While healthcare is a potential panacea for Biden, he may also need to consider bringing back the minority voters whom Democrats seemingly lost in this presidential election.

Biden recorded a victory, but the election showed Latino Americans are not guaranteed votes for Democrats. Western Illinois University students, Anthony Gomez and Yazmin Laserna pointed toward action to bring Latino voters back.

“He needs to implement things that are actually going to help us because he was barely anyone’s first choice,” Gomez said.

Fellow student Laserna said, “he is not much better, but he is the better choice. He needs to go out of his way to help our communities.”

The challenge for Biden is that any attempt at maintaining Obamacare, let alone expanding it, is uncertain. His means to influence policy are likely to be limited even when he assumes office. He would face a similar challenge in reaching out to minorities with public policy, as he will not be inaugurated with a substantial majority.

The ball is on Biden’s court — it is up to him on what he decides to do with it.