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Joe Biden is betting his presidency on this


Biden expanded on that notion during an interview with a handful of political columnists just before Christmas.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib wrote of the conversation:

“Biden delivered a resounding declaration that the political center is alive and well, that he resides there, that he’s always been there, and that he’s going to govern from there. … [Biden] insisted that there are enough Republican lawmakers prepared to meet him in the middle that he can get things done in an evenly divided Congress where he won’t have the kinds of Democratic majorities some of his predecessors enjoyed.”

Or, in Biden’s words: “Republicans are beginning to realize that there is a center that has to be responded to.” Biden’s theory of the case is that because he knows Republicans and they know him, they will cast aside their reflexive partisanship in 2021 in favor of governing philosophy dominated by solutions and compromise.

Which is an interesting notion! Especially because there’s loads of evidence that the current positioning of the Republican Party didn’t begin with President Donald Trump.  In fact, most political observers trace our current hyper-partisanship to the late 1990s and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Seen though that lens, the current actions of the Republican Party aren’t explained by a Trump fever that will break once the billionaire businessman leaves office. It’s better understood as a permanent condition.

What Biden is betting his presidency on is that the Republican Party of the last 20-plus years isn’t what the GOP will look like in 2021. 

“I predict to you, and I may eat these words, I predict you as Donald Trump’s shadow fades away, you’re going to see an awful lot of change,” Biden said in a call with reporters earlier this month. “I know I’ve been criticized heavily for saying from the beginning, we’ve got to unify the country. I think you’re going to be surprised. It’s going to take six to eight months to get it underway but I think you’re going to be surprised.”

It’s on that idea that Biden is betting his presidency. And the odds, at least at the moment, don’t look great.

The Point: Biden believes that politics will return to “normal” once Trump is gone. But what if there’s a new normal that looks very little like the one Biden is hoping for?




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