ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Biden shows he intends to govern


The Dallas Morning News

If 2020 has been a year of shocks, it’s also been a year of surprises. And we suspect that one such surprise for many people is Joe Biden’s approach to taking office next month.

Even under pressure from the far left of his party, the Democrat from Delaware is taking three distinctive steps to unite the country behind him as he prepares to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States next month. If he continues on this path, he might just have an opportunity to govern rather than watch his administration crack apart on the rocks of national division.

It’s far too early, of course, to know how Joe Biden will lead. We’ll have a better idea of his intentions once all of his Cabinet picks are announced and once he stakes out clear budget objectives for the coming year.

But one step he seems to be taking so far is picking people to staff his administration who are more capable public servants than ideological warriors.

While some of the people he’s selected to work on his economic team did draw immediate fire from opponents last week, it’s also worth noting that the big marquee names that would signal dramatic change and draw controversy and drama with their nominations — say, Elizabeth Warren — have so far been left out of the selection process.

Indeed, if the nervous chatter we hear from Washington is to be believed, some of the more cynical political players are starting to fear Biden might actually try to govern by reaching across the aisle.

Another step Biden is taking is to essentially sidestep the political sideswiping too common in Washington. Rather than the political wars we’ve gotten used to, he’s instead signaling that he’s willing to work with the opposition. More than one Democrat has worried out loud that the president-elect might be placing too much hope in working with Republicans in the Senate. But it seems to us what Biden is doing is keeping the door open to working with Mitch McConnell.

And the third step Biden has taken has been to speak directly to the American people in an attempt to lead toward greater cooperation while also projecting a sense of calm.

We’ll have to wait to see if Biden can build a coalition to govern or if he succumbs to the pressures that divide us.

Our hope is Biden uses his moment to overcome national divisions so that we’re better able to deal with the pandemic. It will be difficult if not impossible to have a successful mass vaccination campaign, for example, without uniting the country against a deadly virus that couldn’t care less about your political affiliation.

One key takeaway from the national elections that saw Republicans win down-ballot races, even as Biden narrowly outpaced the president in key states, is that the country isn’t looking for a radical political turn. In fact, it’s looking for pragmatic solutions. And that likely requires turning the wheels of the national government so Washington becomes functional again.

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