The next 10 weeks could be rocky … even rockier than the rest of 2020. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, and the transition to the 46th U.S. presidency will be anything but smooth. Biden sold himself as a calming force, but he too will bring rapid change across the board, as the country lurches away from the Trump years. This OZY Special Dispatch takes you through what the Biden presidency means for everyone from leading liberal AOC to Fox News to Silicon Valley.
The most loyal constituency in the Democratic Party, Black women have now moved from being behind-the-scenes leaders — such as campaign strategists Minyon Moore and Donna Brazile, recent guests on The Carlos Watson Show — to stepping into the spotlight with Kamala Harris as the vice president-elect. As she celebrated in the streets of Washington, D.C., Alicia Lawson, a 29-year-old teacher, marveled at how her home state of Georgia was primed to go blue and, like many, heaped praise on the organizing work of former Georgia gubernatorial contender Stacey Abrams. “I’m hopeful that it will continue to be a space where Black people recognize that we have power and our votes matter,” Lawson said. “And even though the Democratic Party is where we always were, they’ve got to earn us too. They’ve got to show us that they mean to keep us around.”
This year’s racial justice protesters forced an awkward dance by Biden, who never embraced the notion of “defund the police.” So what can these activists expect now? First, a president who actively seeks to reduce racial tensions. “This is a big deal, for us to get some peace and have a reset,” a tearful Van Jones said on CNN on Saturday, echoing OZY’s mission to Reset America. And further criminal justice reform is one of the few things that can actually get done with a Republican Senate. Watch for Harris, a former prosecutor, to take the lead on a new bill to reform sentencing laws and reduce racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.
The brightest star on the Democrats’ left flank was late to the Biden train, having backed Bernie Sanders in the primary, and she could emerge as a primary challenger to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in 2022. She will have more sway over President-elect Biden than she ever did over Trump — and her command of social media makes her vital to helping Biden hold the grassroots together. But the left could wind up sidelined: Sniping at congressional liberals is rising after House Democratic losses, her Green New Deal is off the table, and the prospect of a Republican Senate means Biden will need to cut deals rather than tack left.
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Democrats were deflated this week when, despite early expectations, it became clear that they were unlikely to win the Senate, unless they prevail in two runoffs in Georgia in January. But could this actually benefit Biden? Being forced to deal with McConnell, the Senate majority leader, will tamp down expectations from the left and enable Biden to govern from the center — as he tries to live up to his pledge to mend the wounds of the Trump years, writes Republican strategist Susan Del Percio.
While Republican support for Trump was well north of 90 percent in polls, a vocal coalition of “NeverTrumpers” kept up the drumbeat against the president over the past four years — and openly campaigned for Biden’s win. The Lincoln Project, a collection of GOP strategists, funded buzzy ads that ticked off Trump and tried to knock Republican “Trump enablers” from key seats. Their tactics raised accusations that the initiative was just a money grab for consultants, and the group is already looking to defeat Republicans in the Georgia runoffs. Wary Democrats, meanwhile, appear unlikely to welcome them too far into the fold — though Biden is weighing adding a Republican to his cabinet in a consensus pick.
This contentious election may have caused a permanent rupture between Fox News and Trump’s base. The president is furious at the network for calling Arizona in Biden’s favor on election night, and the network’s news side journalists have tamped down his concerns about voter fraud even as opinion hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson agitate. Many conservatives are vowing to switch to Newsmax TV or One America News Network. And for years there’s been talk of Trump forming his own TV network once he leaves office. But Fox News was the most-watched network on TV this summer, and a Democratic administration could actually be helpful: Fox soared as a home for the opposition during the Obama years.
The Democrats have long known that Latino voters are not a monolithic bloc. Trump nabbed nearly half of the Latino vote in Florida, compared to 35 percent four years ago, and while Biden had more of their support in Texas, it was marginal. While many factors played into the results, poor outreach from the left and the GOP casting Dems as socialists played a strong role in the Latino vote outcome. In Arizona, one Hispanic organizer said Democrats spent “a billion dollars ... talking to white persuadable voters and less than $24 million talking to Latinos.” Future campaigns can’t just fill the coffers of D.C. ad buyers, but should also work to build coalitions. With Trump potentially having won a quarter of non-white voters, it’s time for Biden and the Democrats to directly address the issues of scarcity and strife in their communities … or risk losing them for good.
Many have watched gleefully as their 401(k)s and retirement savings soared owing to market confidence in recent years. So will President Biden have the same effect? While Trump predicted a market crash with a Biden win because of his planned tax hikes and the stock market historically has reacted well to presidential reelections, the turbulent nature of the Trump White House and the surging pandemic could mean investors feel safer with Biden. The real answer is probably a mixed picture, depending on Biden’s policy approaches with COVID-19, taxation, the national debt, stimulus and climate change. At least at first blush, markets are excited at the prospect of gridlock, with Biden and a Republican Senate.
2. Silicon Valley
Both parties have become more skeptical of Big Tech in recent years, as massive companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Apple have come to dominate American life. Biden would probably not be as aggressive on antitrust measures as Trump, but he has indicated he wants to review social media companies’ Section 230 protections, which allow them to avoid liability for content appearing on their sites. One area where Biden would be good for Silicon Valley: immigration policy, as the president-elect is likely to loosen restrictions on hiring skilled foreign workers, who form the lifeblood of top tech firms.