The 46th President of the US | HT Editorial
Joe Biden’s elevation as the 46th President of the United States (US) marks a moment of victory for all those who believe in liberal democracy, civilised politics within the rules of the game, responsible leadership, and the inclusion of various social groups, including minorities, in the power structure. Mr Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, stood at the opposite end of all these values — he was illiberal and authoritarian; he was willing to use lies and deceit and undermine all constitutional institutions to win and then remain in power; and he encouraged xenophobic politics based on White supremacism.
Mr Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as Vice-President and appointment of the most racially diverse cabinet in US history shows that he understands the importance of inclusion. His focus on instituting tougher measures to battle Covid-19 and ramp up vaccination shows that he will have a different approach to the pandemic. And with a new economic stimulus — which Mr Biden will have to push through Congress — the task of domestic economic reconstruction will take priority. But his most challenging domestic political task will be to heal a divided nation — the fact that over 71 million people voted for Mr Trump is a grim reminder of the internal faultlines.
But along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China. The appointment of an Indo-Pacific coordinator signals the continued commitment of the new administration to managing China’s ambitions and investing in regional partnerships in Asia — including with India. But this will be accompanied by Washington’s need to keep up a working relationship with Beijing. Given the relatively bipartisan support for the relationship with India, New Delhi should not be overly concerned about the tactical ebbs and flows in Washington’s policy — for the strategic convergence between the two is unmistakable. Despite concerns that may be expressed about what has come to be seen as India’s democratic backsliding, Mr Biden is likely to invest in the India partnership across the realm of defence, economy, technology, and climate — and perhaps even make a trip to India in the first half of his term. For now, all democrats should celebrate Mr Biden’s win — and the return of the politics of sanity.