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Joe Biden's last stand

Joe Biden's last stand

Voters in New Hampshire head to the polls tomorrow to choose among the Democrats who hope to unseat Donald Trump in November. In the process, they may decide the fate of Joe Biden, the man many people once thought had the best chance of doing that.

Biden's case to voters: His role as Barack Obama's vice president, established political brand, decades of political experience, centrist reputation, and ability to speak authentically to working class voters in the midwestern states that were crucial for Trump's 2016 victory make him the best choice to beat Trump in 2020.


The first test of that case came last week in Iowa, a state where 31 of 99 counties had voted for Obama and then flipped to Trump. These were supposed to be the working class folks that Democrats needed to win back from the GOP. Surely Biden was the man for the job.

In reality, Biden won exactly one of those 31 counties. One. About two-thirds of them went to 37-year old Pete Buttigieg, a man whose political experience is limited to two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Another handful of counties went for Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders.

Look more closely at those Iowa counties. Who would vote for Obama and then Trump? Maybe someone who rejects the entire political establishment in favor of something wholly new. The first African-American president, followed by a celebrity real estate tycoon who had never run for office.

This outsider's appeal is not just an American story these days. Consider the global backdrop for this election. Since Trump won in 2016, we've seen…

  • France elect a president who'd never before run for office, and who created a brand new political party of his own just a year before the election.
  • Germany make the far-right AfD the country's largest opposition bloc and the Greens the fastest-rising party on the left.
  • Italy elect a protest group founded by a comedian and a former separatist party.
  • Mexico elect a president leading a party he invented four years before the election.
  • Brazil elect a formerly little known far-right lawmaker from a party that held a single seat in Congress.
  • Ukraine reject the incumbent president and a former prime minister in favor of a guy who played the president on a TV show.
  • And voters in Ireland last weekend break the century-long stranglehold of two centrist parties by awarding the most votes to a party with past links to a terrorist organization.

In a world where voters are rejecting the entire political establishment, Joe Biden has been in politics for 50 years.

Maybe New Hampshire voters will put him onto the path toward a political turnaround. Or maybe we should question what it means to be "electable" in 2020.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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