Joe Biden must deliver promise to unite the country as the president

Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE is now poised to be the next president of the United States. He appears to have flipped the three essential “blue wall” states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that went for President Trump back in 2016, but had been once reliably won by Democrats since 1992.

Biden also had a victory in a tight contest in Nevada, and appears to have eked out narrow wins in Arizona and Georgia, where his chances were far less certain as those states lean red. Though his Electoral College victory could be decisive, his margin of victory in each of these swing states was 3 points or less, contrary to the larger estimates in the polls.

It means this is not a mandate election. Biden has no clear ratification of his agenda. There is also no clear mandate over control of the Senate. It will likely stay evenly split with perhaps a slim advantage for Republicans. While Biden has won the White House, Republicans had one of their best down ballot elections to date, and the blue wave of Democrats in no way transpired to the extent several projected with the campaign.


Biden will have the enormous responsibility to bring the fractured country together. He must lead in a way that redoubles the broad sense of national purpose. This remains essential if Americans want to continue to thrive as a country while nothing else will do. If Republicans do in fact win a narrow majority in the upper chamber, Biden will need to build a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that is more productive than the relationship around Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

These two leaders will have to work out a bipartisan agenda with another economic stimulus to address the current financial uncertainty and high unemployment rate of nearly 7 percent. We also have to reach some sort of consensus on how the country handles the coronavirus, especially as another wave of infections hits as we enter the cold season.

While Biden was focused on the campaign with attacking Trump over the pandemic response, it is still not clear how Biden could work with leaders across the aisle to create a national consensus on how Americans should act, what treatments can work, and where we stand with the prospective coronavirus vaccines that remain in varying stages of trials.

Biden will also need to work with Republicans to pass legislation to ensure health care for millions of Americans who lost critical coverage during the pandemic, while protecting those who live with existing conditions. Biden has promised to achieve this goal by building on the Affordable Care Act, but truly delivering it with legislation will be the central issue.

On the world stage, Biden must articulate a vision for the United States as a beacon of liberty and reclaim its position as a global leader. Who we are as a country, where we are heading, and how we confront our adversaries around the world is a challenge. We may be weakened by ways that could reduce our ability to address our own problems. The hallmark with foreign policy under Trump has been instability which undermines confidence for our actions and threatens our national security objectives.


In this sense, we can hope that Biden will work hard to reassert military and moral authority around the world, and restore the foreign policy of most presidents since the end of the Cold War, which is aimed to affirm the national status of the United States as a global leader.

Lastly, whether we are red or blue, northern or southern, white or people of color, Biden will need to make broad efforts to reject political division. This is something he has now pledged to do, yet it will be a challenge in this time of heated rhetoric. Without such an effort to unite the country, Biden will not be able to fully succeed as the next president.

Douglas Schoen is a consultant who served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton and to the campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His latest book was “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”