Most Americans and much of the rest of the world have heaved a sigh of relief with the departure of Donald Trump after a presidency that did serious harm to the United States’ international image and credibility, perhaps even irreparably.
The election of the centrist, experienced, dependable and staunch champion of multilateral cooperation and the Euro-Atlantic partnership, Joe Biden, has been very well received. Still, restoring the closeness in relations that we had become accustomed to for decades will be no easy task.
America’s soft power – from the promotion of the shared values of liberty, democracy and tolerance, to the American Dream of economic prosperity and the enduring allure of its universities – has been dealt a serious blow.
Throughout the Trump presidency, the Greeks, the Europeans and everyone else could hardly believe some of the things they saw and heard coming from the White House. The storming of the Capitol, incited by the country’s president, was the cherry on the cake.
Public opinion polls unfortunately show that an overwhelming majority of Republicans seem to still be fond of a man others would say is psychologically disturbed, while a significant portion of the party’s voters even approve of the events of January 6. The good news is that the Republican leadership, at least, seems to be slowly drifting away from the ex-president and criticizing his actions.
The loss of support may prompt Trump to establish his own party, something “Patriotic” most likely, and his own broadcaster – Trump TV – so that he can continue to stay in the limelight, influence developments and take advantage of any political clout he has left as he faces a number of legal battles.
The only ray of hope in this bleak landscape is Joe Biden’s character: His earnestness and likability, even to many across the aisle – much unlike Bill and Hillary Clinton, for example – might help him. His age might seem like something of a problem, but it also points to a one-term presidency and will make it easier for his rivals to work with him.
Biden’s experience in working with Republicans in the Senate is another important asset in his ability to succeed in the biggest challenge of his presidency: healing the wounds and divisions in American society.
To that end, the endorsement he received from former secretary of state Colin Powell, who served as national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and as the nation’s top diplomat under George W. Bush, says it all. “Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute,” the veteran of the Vietnam War, who broke ranks with the Republican Party in protest at Trump’s shenanigans, told the Democratic convention in August.