In time for Thanksgiving on Thursday, America has reason to celebrate: Three weeks after his election defeat, Donald Trump is finally clearing the way for a change of power. The designated US President Joe Biden can now take off and relies on a healthy mixture of experience, pragmatism and a bold new beginning. America’s “checks and balances” democracy has proven itself in its greatest crisis to date, despite all Kassandra calls.
For the economy, and not just for America, an agonizing phase of uncertainty is coming to an end. Not only that: Biden is planning a new start in economic policy. With his election of Janet Yellen as the new Treasury Secretary, he made three exclamation marks: During her time at the helm of the Fed, despite the opposition of many conservative economists, the former Federal Reserve Bank patiently pushed through the longest economic recovery in US history with extremely low interest rates.
You couldn’t ask for more experience in combating the current corona economic crisis. Yellen also stands for a bold Keynesian fiscal policy, without which neither America nor the rest of the world can overcome the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The next aid program for the battered US economy is therefore likely to be larger. That and the fact that Yellen would be the first woman to head the US Treasury should also appease the progressive left among the Democrats and give Biden more support in his own party.
Biden pairs his political courage in economic policy with multilateral pragmatism in foreign policy. With Antony Blinken as Foreign Minister and Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, the new US President is also relying on many years of experience in the cabinet.
U-turn in American foreign policy
At the same time, with the two personnel decisions, Biden signals a turnaround in American foreign policy: Instead of Trump’s “America first” policy, which for the Republicans usually amounted to “America alone”, the Biden team relies on the foreign policy strategy that has been tried and tested since the end of World War II To achieve goals together with international allies. Here human rights and democracy are likely to play a greater role in the future.
Europeans in particular should be pleased that the fight against climate change is also becoming a priority with the appointment of former Foreign Minister John Kerry as special envoy.
Europe is moving more into the spotlight again, but the main focus of US foreign policy will also apply to rival China under Biden. Beijing is celebrating the conclusion of the RCEP Asian free trade area as a victory for multilateralism.
Now the US is back as an ally under Biden. This is good news, especially for Europeans, but it is also an obligation. In the future, Europe should rant less about “digital sovereignty” and seek solidarity with the new Biden administration in data protection and competition policy.
The chances for a multilateral China strategy have never been better. Other western-oriented countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are also interested in this. But Asian nations such as India, Vietnam and the Philippines now also have an alternative to authoritarian China.
Biden must learn from the mistakes of the Obama years
The decisive factor will be whether Biden can balance the protectionist reservations in his party and among his voters in the Midwest with the desire of many Democrats for a clear demarcation from China.
Biden’s first decisions indicate that he wants to correct the most serious mistakes of the Trump era as quickly as possible. But the Biden team also has to show that it has learned a lot.
Many of the people the new US president is now calling into his leadership team shared responsibility for a policy during the Obama years that at least could not prevent Donald Trump from moving into the White House in 2016.
Accordingly, Biden will act cautiously, especially in security and trade policy. Biden’s U-turn cannot be Obama’s third term. The good news of the year 2020 remains that after the agonizing game a new start is now possible for America.
Trump won’t silently evacuate the White House, but his tweets will no longer set the pace of the world’s most powerful nation. America’s democracy met the challenge of an autocrat – not brilliantly, but convincingly.
Not only the millions and millions of Americans who took part in the election contributed to this. The local electoral authorities and the independent courts have not bowed to Trump’s political pressure, but have fulfilled their constitutional mandate.
As strange as this process might sometimes be to European eyes, the democratic struggle was just as lively and impressive. Americans have reason to celebrate – not just Thanksgiving.
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