He is defined by his unmistakable Ray Ban Aviators, his free use of slang at rallies and at any kind of gathering—“folks, guys, hey”—a simple and popular way of talking proper to those who claim the identity of a Democrat linked to the world of the unions, together with the sartorial elegance of an old-style politician.
There’s also the stuttering he overcame as a child, which from time to time comes back and makes him stumble in his speeches; the optimistic smile; the double-edged celebrity that comes with the many gaffes that span his long career in the US Senate, which began at the age of 29.
The 46th President of the United States is a well-known and experienced political figure, who, even in the stormy days of the post-election period—which is not yet over—has been able to keep calm and show patience, in striking contrast with his defeated rival, who is nervous, aggressive, a cranky and still-dangerous child.
Joseph (Joe) Robinette Biden Jr.—or just Joe, the most common name in America, a normal American like millions of others. Trump did him a great favor by calling him Joe on a regular basis, as if he were addressing an ordinary citizen, trying to underestimate his status as a challenger and as a former Vice President. But in this way, he only emphasized and brought out the stronger and more communicative side of his opponent.
The 78-year-old Joe Biden has become—despite himself, as he is centrist and moderate (or perhaps because of that very fact?)—a revolutionary figure in an America that is celebrating his election: because he is the Joe who has defeated the subversive figure from Manhattan. What he embodies and symbolizes is the return to normality, after four years at the mercy of a president like none other, who preferred to keep the role of demagogue in a perennial election campaign, of a leader of only a part of the country, of an attack dog who bites anyone who’s not with him.
So, Joe’s election has the meaning of the end of a nightmare. Of decisively turning over a new leaf. For many reasons, not least the resilience of Trump and his vast movement, not only is it possible, but even likely that this feeling will soon turn out to be ephemeral—but these days are a time for celebration, and not only in America.
During these days, after the victory speech he shared with Kamala Harris on Saturday, Biden will be putting his long experience as a negotiator to good use, trying to discuss an honorable way out of the White House for his opponent. He has already been making moves in this regard since the polls closed: His pollsters (Biden’s campaign spent an enormous amount of money on accurate polls, much more than those of the TV networks) told him of his very likely victory, while Trump—just as well informed of his defeat—was proclaiming himself the winner.
Since then, Biden has limited himself to making it clear that the race was going in his direction, without triumphant tones, but inviting his people to wait a bit more. He has preferred to move with patience, according to the rules of the old politics. In this way he let the idea develop among the ranks of the Republican Party—at least among the less fanatical of the notable figures—that a negotiation to make the handover fluid would be a wiser course for everyone, including for the GOP, instead of a head-on confrontation.
Biden is so far ahead of the now ex-president that no recount or series of appeals will succeed—even with the most sophisticated shenanigans—in overturning the people’s verdict. Yet another defeat for Trump and his acolytes, now in “overtime,” would be catastrophic and fatal for them.
Thus, the next moves will inevitably take place on the field of the unfinished battle of counting all the votes and certifying the winner.
In the meantime, together with Kamala Harris, the new president will have to prepare the ground for a new administration. The expectations are high—both with regard to the rampant COVID emergency, and the economic and employment emergency. To this mess, add a large number of critical social issues, consciously and irresponsibly fueled by the outgoing president, accurately described in the recurring image of a split, torn nation, at war with itself.
The Biden-Harris administration will now have the mammoth work of rebuilding a nation and a shared sentiment. The restoration of a pluralistic community, respectful of rights and law, open and inclusive. The first step and first test in that direction is the formation of the team that will support him in the White House and the new cabinet.
It will take careful work to set out—right down to the very physiognomy of the new government and its departments, especially the most important ones—the intention to start a new political era, not only different from the one that it leaves behind, but decidedly oriented towards the future. Women and people of color in key posts, at the State Department, Treasury, Pentagon. Left-wing representatives in the social departments, the Department of Justice, the healthcare administration. A program of spending and interventions that would signal a new beginning.
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