Biden Begins

David, Helen and Gary reflect on what lies ahead for American politics and for the Biden administration. Does Trump pose more of a threat from inside or outside the Republican party? Is immigration about to become the central partisan dividing line once again? How much good can calls for unity do in such a fractured country? Plus, we look at Trump's list of entrants for his garden of national heroes. From Emily Dickinson to Hannah Arendt to Woody Guthrie - but no Bruce Springsteen. What's going on?


Talking Points:


Many in the Republican Party, including McConnell, have never liked Trump—are they now breaking with him?

  • Attempts to establish new parties can shake up American politics, but they rarely succeed.
  • The Trump candidacy was a disaster for the Republican establishment from the beginning. 
  • McConnell is willing to consider impeachment because Trump still represents a threat to the mainstream Republican Party.


Success in American party politics requires party organization in all 50 states.

  • This is not the kind of work that generally appeals to Trump.
  • He will probably want to influence the political process from the outside, to make the existing system ungovernable.


The Biden administration wants to be much more ambitious on immigration.

  • Previous attempts at immigration reform have failed.
  • Biden has an opportunity to demonstrate government competence by focusing on vaccinations.


Biden has made clear that climate is a priority.

  • This is politically useful for holding together the Democratic party.
  • Biden has already pledged to cancel the Keystone Pipeline; at least on some issues he’s willing to take on the oil and gas industry.
  • This quickly gets into foreign policy issues, especially re China.


Biden’s initial window is really two years, not four.

  • Democrats should not be counting on a majority in the 2022 elections.
  • They need to demonstrate the competence of the federal government. Though it may be difficult for any government to appear competent these days.

Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning: 


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