Divided Government, Civil Unity

Today marks the third day since the US Presidential Election and we are still waiting for the winner. With a divided government looking increasingly likely, America needs a President that can bring the country together, writes Parliament Street C.E.O., Patrick Sullivan. 

Politics is always in perpetual motion. This means that while the rest of us are trying to catch up on our rest following a prolonged election night, which ended with to be continued…, political Washington is already looking to what they think their new normal will be.

As things stand, at the time of writing, it appears increasingly unlikely that President Trump will win the 270 Electoral College votes needed to hold onto the Presidency. This does not mean that Donald Trump will be departing from our airwaves anytime soon. He will just be moving over to another network, most likely his own.

Supporters of President Trump see him as like Rocky Balboa. Like Rocky, he gave it his all in this campaign. Although, he may not emerge victorious this time round but, like Rocky, The Donald will be itching for a rematch in the sequel. Coming 2024.

America has had a President serve non-consecutive terms before. That is Grover Cleveland is both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. This means that if Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20th, 2021 that he will be the 46th President of the United States but only the 45th person to be President of the United States.

With the world’s attention focused on who would hold its most powerful office; too little attention was paid as to who controlled the legislative levers of American government. Despite what some hysterics in the media would have had you believe; democracy was not on the ballot in this election. America is a very resilient democracy with numerous checks and balances to prevent any one individual becoming all-powerful.

If Joe Biden is sworn in, as many expect, on January 20th it will not be as an all-powerful President but as a President whose powers are constrained by a Republican Senate. However, if there ever was a President who could master a difficult Senate, it is Joe Biden. He spent 36 years of his life as a United States Senator, and 23 of those years overlapped with current Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell’s ongoing tenure in that august body.

Mitch McConnell is now the second most powerful man in Washington D.C. and is the most powerful Senate Majority Leader since Lyndon Baines Johnson. One of the roles of the United States Senate is to advise and consent on, among other things, appointments to the President’s Cabinet. What this means in political terms is that Senator McConnell has an effective veto on Biden’s Cabinet appointments. This has already caused great concern among the Biden Presidential transition team.

Should Joe Biden achieve his lifelong ambition of becoming President, “Divided Government” will be the political narrative in D.C. with the public policy agenda dominated by the continuing pandemic and its aftermath. Divided government is terrible when you have a professorial President, like Barack Obama, but if you have a more kinetic politician as President, like Bill Clinton, a lot of progress can be made. Let us not forget that Bill Clinton, with a Republican Congress, was able to leave the U.S. Federal Budget in surplus for the first, and only time, in modern history. This is one reason that some voters actually prefer a divided government.

Although I personally wanted and still want President Trump to pull off a last-minute upset victory, I do want Joe Biden to succeed should he become President. The stakes are simply too high for him to fail. We need America to be at her best to see the Free World through the stormy present.

Sometimes the time chooses the leader and not the other way around. In 2016, an outsider was needed to awaken political Washington from its complacency. After four years of President Trump, the political establishment is unlikely to fall foul of the sin of complacency any time soon.

Much has been made of Joe Biden’s 47 years in politics but maybe what is needed in 2020 is a politician who can fudge America’s political differences at its most divided period since their Civil War. More than anything the American people are looking for a leader who can bring them together and by likely choosing divided government they have elected for a return to normalcy. They have signalled to the likely soon to be President-elect Biden that they want him to steady the ship of State and not to steer it in a radically new direction. To borrow a phrase, they want him to be strong and stable.

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