Joe Biden has survived a grueling election campaign and a cliff-hanger election. Next, he must fend off legal challenges from US President Donald Trump’s campaign. While he will most likely enter the White House on January 20, 2021, he will wonder when he gets there whether the prize he sought for so long is a poisoned chalice.
A President Biden will enter office confronting widespread economic distress, the seasonal escalation of a deadly pandemic, and a brutal international environment. These challenges would test even the most skilled leader. But Biden will be further hampered by a divided government, a hostile judiciary, a weakened federal bureaucracy, and lingering Trumpian populism among the public.
In the past, a newly elected president could expect some cooperation from the opposing party in passing legislation. Biden should expect nothing of the kind. Republican members of Congress largely beat expectations in the election and will see no reason for compromise. If Republicans retain their majority in the Senate, they can and will try to undermine the Biden administration, to create the conditions for an anti-Democratic backlash in the 2022 midterm elections. Progressive bills will be dead on arrival, and sorely needed constitutional reforms of the Electoral College, voting laws, and the presidency will not occur. More likely, Americans will have to endure sporadic government shutdowns amid a cold civil war that maintains a status quo of paralysis – at best.
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