These days, risk seems almost unavoidable. If the virus doesn’t get you, the economy will. And this situation will continue for a while. So why seek out risk? That is what I am doing here. The risk is looking stupid or even ridiculous in six months or so. That is what happens when you predict what a Biden Presidency, or a second term of Trump, might look like.
One risk is that Uncle Joe might not become President. The Tara Reade accusations may get him. (They won’t). He may get the virus and die (unlikely given that he is hunkered down in his basement in Delaware). Or something else unforeseen may get him. (Let’s hope not.) Common sense says we should assume he will be around in November. A nostalgia for sanity forces you to hope he will win.
Here is what I predict:
He will select a competent vice president, one ready to step into the Presidency. Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris come to mind. They have demonstrated leadership skills and have resumes that qualify them for the Presidency.
He will embrace science. Expect credentialed experts in HHS, Energy, EPA, Interior, and in other agencies and on the White House staff. Commitment to truth and honesty will be the rule.
He will lead with integrity. Biden is not and never has been driven by greed. We will welcome four years without having to periodically Google “emoluments.” Nepotism also will disappear from the headlines.
He will talk about someone other than himself. Narcissism is a serious mental illness. We have learned a lot about it in the last three and a half years. A Biden Presidency will give us a chance to learn about something else.
He will not lie. Won’t that be a welcome change?
He will work to restore American leadership in the world. Note that I have suggested he will strive towards the restoration of our leadership role rather than that he will achieve it. So serious is the damage done under Trump, unfortunately, four years will not be enough to erase the bad feelings now undermining us throughout the world.
He will show genuine compassion towards working people. Biden’s roots as a middle-class guy make it all but a certainty that he will pursue policies to build and strengthen the middle class. He will do this not only because it is right, but because income inequality threatens the fabric of America.
He will appoint competent judges. Some of Trump’s recent appointments suggest that something other than a respect for justice guides his selection process. Biden will choose disciplined, well-qualified jurists appreciated more for their legal experience than their ideology.
Biden will make progress in rebuilding the U.S. economy. Because the economic damage from the pandemic will get worse, the road to returned prosperity is a long one. Biden will seek to aid those facing long-term hardship and make strategic investments in a transformed economy at the same time. This approach will disappoint some on the left, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom would welcome a full transition to democratic socialism. It will, however, be the right road. Prosperity is not likely to return without entrepreneurs and the types of innovation driven by private enterprise.
Among current Democratic leaders who will play a role in what I hope will be a successful administration are Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris (possibly as attorney general if she doesn’t serve as vice president), Jay Inslee (Washington State governor who made a lot of sense on climate change), and Mike Bennet (Colorado senator who has the experience to help America’s schools and colleges transition to the post-pandemic world). And how about Hillary Clinton at State?
My next column, should I survive some of the likely reactions to this one, will predict what a second term of Trump might look like. Something to look forward to. (I mean the column, not the second term).
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant. He is a former counsel to the House Committee on Education and Labor. For more than 30 years, he advised clients on federal education and social service policy