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Election 2020: what a Biden victory could mean for America | The Economist

hi folks this is joe biden

joe biden the democratic presidential

nominee

is well a little dull

but after four years of this president

trump has fired

another government watchdog disinfectant

knocks it out in a minute

dull might seem pretty appealing to

american voters right now

at the beginning of august the

economists forecast gave biden a very

high chance of winning

if he does win forget dull biden could

be the most ambitious democratic

president

for a generation this is why

all re-election bids are to a large

extent

referendums on the incumbent president

who normally has the advantage

before curved 19 hit america

president donald trump had a 50-50

chance

of being re-elected as the coronavirus

pandemic

ravaged america and as america saw

unrest and protests that it hadn't seen

since the 60s

his chance has now fallen nationally joe

biden's polling numbers are

high and they're also high in

battleground states

he's leading in the blue wall states of

wisconsin

michigan and pennsylvania states that

hillary clinton lost in 2016.

he even stands a fighting chance in

solidly republican states

such as arizona texas and georgia

pretty fly for a dull old white guy

he's clearly not an aspiring candidate

in the way that barack obama was

or even in the way that bernie sanders

or elizabeth warren work what he does

have

is a sort of wide appeal that makes him

acceptable

to the broadest possible range of voters

and one of the things that's

extraordinary about him is that he has

always sat

directly at the center of his party and

he has shifted

as his party has shifted left he has

shifted with it

a politician's ideology can be measured

based on how they vote

the closer a score is to minus one the

more left-leaning

a politician is and the closer to one

the more right-leaning

this shows the scores of all of the

democratic senators

who biden served with during his 18

congresses

the average democrat score during that

time

was minus 0.306

bidens was -0.314

placing him right in the middle of the

party

now what that means is that in this

particular election

he was not among the more progressive

candidates

that turned off a lot of progressives

but i think it signaled to a lot of

other people

that he was not radical he was not

frightening

on the other hand the fact that he has

shifted as his party shift means that he

has been open to change

so i think there's this paradox right

where progressives

want to nominate the most progressive

candidate they can but

actually there is an argument that if

you want to enact progressive policies

it's better to elect dull candidates who

are open to change

than it is to elect extremely

progressive standard bearers who are

going to frighten off a lot more people

biden's policies show he is open to

change

but that much like his candidacy it's

best achieved in a non-threatening and

gradual manner

take healthcare though biden doesn't

support the more progressive proposal of

medicare for all

he does back a government-run healthcare

program

that people can buy into now because

that program is going to be so big

it can keep premiums down it's going to

look really appealing to people who have

to buy insurance on the private market

it could eventually lead to

employers just giving their employees

money to buy insurance so that could

lead to the same place more or less that

medicare for all was leading

but in a more sort of gradual less

disruptive way

there's no more consequential challenge

than the on-rushing climate crisis

on climate change biden was lukewarm on

the green new deal

backed by those on the left but he has

proposed a two trillion dollar

environmental plan

with huge investment in green

infrastructure

he has pledged to make america carbon

neutral by 2050 so again

it's a sort of gradual plan that is no

less ambitious for being graduate

these policies set him apart from recent

democratic presidents

bill clinton was an extremely popular

president in his time

he was sort of playing on the field that

ronald reagan had set meaning there was

a sense that people were turning away

from big government

his signature policy on welfare reform

for instance

he was very tough on crime kicked a lot

of people off welfare

we have to end welfare as a way of life

and make it a path

to independence and dignity he was not

terribly progressive but that was the

field that was left to him to play

but biden is playing on a very different

field

americans appetite for federal

government intervention

changes with every presidency they are

more in favor of big government now

than at any point in the past 68 years

this gives biden the opportunity to be

more ambitious

than his predecessors

yes we can obama represented change in

who he was

but as a politician he's instinctively

cautious and he's sort of governed

really like a center-right president joe

biden

does not embody change but because he is

so widely acceptable to so many people

and because the democratic party has

moved left and because the last four

years

have been so chaotic he has the space to

govern much more ambitiously than barack

obama did

having ambitious policies is one thing

getting the legislation passed

is another to achieve that the democrats

will need to control

both the house and the senate as biden

well knows

thanks to almost five decades of

legislative experience

in 2018 democrats retook the house of

representatives

giving them a 36-seat majority but in

the senate

republicans have the majority in order

to take control of congress

the democrats will need to hold their

majority in the house

and flip at least three senate seats if

biden wins

and four if he does not and taking

control of congress

is looking possible thanks in part

dividing

[Music]

because joe biden is so broadly

appealing to so many people

he has long coattails he helps the image

of the party

there's nothing we cannot do if we do it

together

if people want to see his policies

enacted they know they have to elect a

democratic senate

and congress to do it yet a simple

majority is no guarantee

that biden would be able to pass major

legislative changes

they could be blocked by an arcane

political custom

called a filibuster

but there's another way biden could

deliver change

one which many presidents have made

liberal use of

and that doesn't require congress by

signing

executive orders

he could roll back trump's executive

orders on immigration

he can roll back the trump

administration's rollback of

environmental regulations

it's going to be tough to enact his

health healthcare plans without

legislation

but on immigration and environmental

policy there's a great deal he can do as

president without congress climate

change along with covert 19

and the iran nuclear deal are global

issues

which demand a global leader and it's in

this role

that biden could have the most

wide-reaching political effect

his vast foreign policy experience will

give him the tools to demonstrate an

ambition for true international

leadership that has been missing for the

past four years

biden was on the foreign affairs

committee in the senate for a long time

he would like to see america step back

into its role as leader of the free

world

and i think there's a sense that a lot

of democracies around the world would

like that

too and there's another way that a biden

presidency

could have an impact long beyond his own

term in office

at the age of 78 biden could be

america's oldest ever

president but he has grand plans to

future-proof

the democratic party look i view myself

as a bridge

not as anything else there's an entire

generation of leaders you saw stand

behind me

they are the future of this country

they're the people

joe biden does say that he's abridged

the next generation of democratic

leaders and what that means is

he will come into office whether he

serves one term or two terms

there'll be another generation of

democratic leaders who mature under him

he knows

he doesn't represent the future of the

party but he is the way for the future

of the party to emerge

currently biden's odds look good if you

click on the link above

it'll take you to the economist's most

up-to-date forecasting

but president trump still has time to

take decisive action on coronavirus

and carry favor with the electorate

biden could be an ambitious president

but ultimately that ambition will amount

to nothing

if he fails to win i'm jon fassman

the economist washington correspondent

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