By VasileiosTzimas, Political analyst
After the end of World War II, Harry Truman became the first president to lay the foundations for the international system, where the United States became the dominant power of the Western world. In domestic affairs Truman remained faithful to the principles of the Democratic Party, performing popular governance in favor of the world of work.
Before becoming a leader with historic accomplishments, Harry Truman was a politician who was in Franklin Roosevelt’s shadow, the gifted president with the longest presidency (12 years). In fact, Roosevelt had not assigned any duties to Truman, until after his death, when Truman was summoned to take charge of the country’s destiny.
These days, another leader of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, is coming out of the shadow of another gifted leader, Barack Obama, having served twice as a vice president. Biden is also taking over his presidential duties at a difficult and critical time. He’s taking control of a country that is being hit harder than any other country by the Coronavirus pandemic, the American and global economy in its deepest recession since the post-war period, a system of international relations in great turbulence, after Trump’s catastrophic term, and while Democracy, inside the United States, but also globally, is in doubt.
Joe Biden has already shownthe first signs of a great leader who wants to unify the people. His excellent leadership skills have already appeared during the transitional period, after the elections, from the way he managed his big win, by adopting mild and unifying tones, by choosing prominent officials for the new government formation and by organizing, in the best possible way, his assumption of power, in spite of Trump’s attempts to hinder the process.
Even before moving to the White House, Biden has proven how much value the wisdom of a politician who wins with his experience and his persistence in values, as well as in handling politics, in favor of the society and the people, has for the people.
The challenges that Biden is going to face are big:
- As far as the sanitary crisis is concerned, Biden is taking office exactly at the time that the country is on the threshold of a second wave of pandemic with a great number of cases, including deaths, and the beginning of the vaccinations, that everyone hopes will manage to tame the Coronavirus and lead back to normality. Until then, though, the new president and his Cabinet will have to coordinate the,not so simple, effort for mass vaccinations, overcoming Trump’s mistakes and failures. In addition, they will have to take, for the first time, effective social distancing measures and safety measures for the public, which Trump had inadequately taken. Biden seems determined to promote these, asking Americans to wear masks for 100 days.
- In economic policy, Biden will have to overcome the big problems that Trump left behind. He will have to prove that he is the president who can work in a unifying way, in a deeply fragmented Washington, so that the White House and the Congress will take common steps towards the right direction of taking measures for the economic resurgence.
In this phase of recovery after the pandemic, Biden will have a difficult mission to accomplish, especially if the Senate stays under the control of the Republicans: to exercise politics that will not simply create the conditions for economic growth mainly in favor of big enterprises and the upper class, something that happened during Trump’s term, but for a growth that will also improve the position of the middle and the lower classes, which found themselves in economic lethargy or saw their status worsen during Trump’s four-year presidency.
- One of Biden’s most difficult missions, though, will be to heal the wounds in foreign policy,that Trump’s presidency has left behind. The most powerful Democracy in the world has to come out of the isolation, in which Trump placed it, to become again the effective leader of the West, to put the new rules in the relations with China, to decisively face Russia’s threat and to reposition the United States in strategic areas of high importance, such as the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. The United States should return in a leading role in critical international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, and agreements, such as the Paris Agreement for the Climate Change. From Biden’s effectiveness in foreign policy a lot will be determined not only for the USA and its international role in the future, but also for the planet: progress towards the direction of the expansion of Democracy and the mitigation of tensions and armed conflicts cannot exist without a powerful leading authority of the biggest Democracy in the world. Biden, as an expert in diplomacy and politics, is well aware of all current critical incidents and is ready to put an end to Trump’s “America first” isolationism.
- As for the Democracy and theinstitutions that have been seriously destabilized by Trump’s policy – a president whose election has been, according to strong indications, supported by a hostile power, Russia, while he governed in a divisive, authoritarian and populistic way and without respect to the institutions and to the rule of law – Biden now has to bring normality back. To reduce political polarization in Washington and the American society and to govern in an honest way and, as himself has said, as a president for all Americans. Biden, mainly as a moderate politician, is America’s big hope for a gradual restitution of the real function of Democracy. Unfortunately, as Biden prepares for America’s reconstruction and its institutions, Trump, even during his last days at the White House, undermines the foundations of Democracy and humiliates the institution of the presidency, by playing micro-political games with the unemployment allowance of millions of Americans, by pardoning collaborators in order for them to avoid jail, and by trying, even during his last days in power, to govern by models of authoritarian leaders, such as Putin, Erdogan, Lukashenko and Bolsonaro.
Could Joe Biden, a moderate president, manage with success all of these difficult challenges without the characteristics of a gifted leader? Harry Truman’s example is a great historical proof of all the accomplishments that a wise leader, with fairness and effectiveness, may have, even if he does not belong in the category of gifted leaders. Besides, as Truman has said “Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” And Joe Biden will certainly prove to be a courageous and competent leader who can seize the opportunities.