Biden Begins

Biden Begins

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

David, Helen and Gary reflect on what lies ahead for American politics and for the Biden administration. Does Trump pose more of a threat from inside or outside the Republican party? Is immigration about to become the central partisan dividing line once again? How much good can calls for unity do in such a fractured country? Plus, we look at Trump's list of entrants for his garden of national heroes. From Emily Dickinson to Hannah Arendt to Woody Guthrie - but no Bruce Springsteen. What's going on?

Talking Points:

Many in the Republican Party, including McConnell, have never liked Trump—are they now breaking with him?

Attempts to establish new parties can shake up American politics, but they rarely succeed.The Trump candidacy was a disaster for the Republican establishment from the beginning. McConnell is willing to consider impeachment because Trump still represents a threat to the mainstream Republican Party.

Success in American party politics requires party organization in all 50 states.

This is not the kind of work that generally appeals to Trump.He will probably want to influence the political process from the outside, to make the existing system ungovernable.

The Biden administration wants to be much more ambitious on immigration.

Previous attempts at immigration reform have failed.Biden has an opportunity to demonstrate government competence by focusing on vaccinations.

Biden has made clear that climate is a priority.

This is politically useful for holding together the Democratic party.Biden has already pledged to cancel the Keystone Pipeline; at least on some issues he’s willing to take on the oil and gas industry.This quickly gets into foreign policy issues, especially re China.

Biden’s initial window is really two years, not four.

Democrats should not be counting on a majority in the 2022 elections.They need to demonstrate the competence of the federal government. Though it may be difficult for any government to appear competent these days.

Mentioned in this Episode:

‘The Garden of American Heroes’ On Fred Trump and Woody GuthrieThe text of Joe Biden’s inaugural address

Further Learning: 

More on Biden’s immigration planGreen New Deal? Talking Politics American Histories… Monopoly and Muckraking

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:

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