Joe Biden wins: here's what it means

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Joe Biden, he's number 46, the next President. That's right, he's won. Not expecting a concession from President Donald Trump. Am expecting a serious contested election, and indeed that a large number of Americans will believe that the election has been stolen from them, has been rigged, de-legitimizing the process. This is not fun. It's not fun for the United States to have its political institutions erode. It's not new, but it's getting worse. Another thing that's not fun is a President Biden winning by four million votes plus. That number likely to come up as states like California continue to send in absentee ballots and do more counting but having no capacity to engage in political reform in January and the rest. I mean, imagine there's no other democracy in the world where a President can win by four million votes and not be able to have a reform agenda.


But the fact that the Senate is likely to stay Republican means, and that the country is as incredibly divided as it is, means that you can get executive orders, right? I mean, Trump came in and he redid all of the Obama Executive orders, and now Biden will come in and he'll redo all the Trump executive orders. And that is no way to govern, but that is the only way available to govern. So, I mean, again, the erosion of the legislature as well. There are such things internationally, the equivalent of executive orders, that can be done on the foreign policy front. The United States has now formally withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord. The only country that has. Every other country in the world agrees with joining it. It's hard to unify the world on an issue. We have managed that now on the United States, but 77 days after the US pulls out, President Biden will put the United States back in. The Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement with the Russians, Biden can bring the United States back in.

The World Health Organization, the US won't leave. Co-vacs, the ability to cooperate and coordinate with the WHO, the United Nations, Bill Gates, the Europeans on creating and distributing more equitably vaccines for the world as a whole, particularly the under-developed pieces of the world. Yes, Biden can do that too. So, it's not as if there's nothing that will happen right under a Biden Presidency, but to be clear, we are in the middle of a pandemic. It is the most important story today. It was the most important story before the election. And that means you need more governance. That means you need more stimulus. You need more relief. You need trillions of dollars for people that otherwise will be evicted from their homes, will default on credit card debt, do not have jobs to go to. Yes, the US economy is rebounding, but not as fast as it needs to for a lot of Americans that feel disenfranchised.

And they're going to feel more disenfranchise on the back of a 2021 that economically feels really challenging for them. At least in Europe, they've treated coronavirus as something that affects all Europeans, and so they've put a lot of money in play that's going from the wealthy states to the poorest states. And it's not only helping a lot of Europeans dig out from this crisis, but it's also reducing Euro skepticism among people like the Greeks and the Italians Spaniards that have said, "What are these European institutions good for? These Germans, these French, these Dutch, they don't care about us." Well, now they feel like they care a little bit more. Well, how are the Americans going to feel next year when Washington isn't getting it done for them? Well, it's going to be a lot more challenging.

How's the left of the Democratic Party going to feel when after this big popular vote win by Biden, none of them are part of the Biden cabinet? They're going to be pretty antagonized. How is the right going to feel, the Trump supporters going to feel when they have lost an election that they believe that they've won. Again, wrongly, but nonetheless, that is the disinformation that is being actively promoted by the still President of the United States, Donald Trump. Now, I made very clear that the speech that we saw, some of us saw, I saw, that declared that the vote was illegal, that he had actually won, and that was parroted by a surprising, maybe not so surprising, number of Trump loyalists in the Senate and in the House. Not all, but still certainly a majority compared to those saying, "No, you've got to just count the votes." That does mean that so many more people in the United States will feel like this has been done to them, forced upon them, and it will mean more of a division.

Indeed, in 2021, President Biden will take office with the most politically divided country of any advanced industrial nation on the planet. Also happens to be the most powerful country on the planet. That is a problem. It's a problem for the United States. It's a problem globally. I will say the United States and its ability to have influence on the global stage is not going away. The dollar is still the global reserve currency. Nothing else is close. The American universities overall are absolutely tops of the charts, and if you're a parent from another country, you'd like to send your kids there. There's still going to be a great desire for American tourism and the Muslim ban that Trump put in place, so called, that's an executive order that gets unwound real fast under Biden too. So the ability to get visas to come in, the ability to study in the United States, the US still has that polling power.

You want to buy a house in the US, wouldn't you rather have real estate there than in Hong Kong right now or in London right now? The answer is, of course, you would. But is the United States a political system that you would like to emulate? Are you fricking kidding me? I have to say I was a bit bemused, maybe that's the right term, to see the Secretary of State come out and criticize elections in the Cote d'Ivoire and Tanzania in the past days for irregularities. Not to say that he was wrong, just to say that I don't think anybody wants to hear that from the United States right now, because you have a President in the US, a sitting President who is saying without a scintilla of evidence that the American election has been stolen and rigged. So I really think that the Americans might take a break from criticizing other elections for a while.

Maybe let the Canadians handle it for us. I'm sure they'd be willing to. It's just a problem that today the US political system is no longer a standard for other countries. There are countries democratically that are standards. I mean, I look at New Zealand today. I look at Canada. Heck, I look at Germany. I look at the Nordics. I look at Japan. There are a lot of democracies that have their act reasonably well together, and you don't see the anti-establishment sentiment, the view that the institutions are illegitimate, that there's no social contract that works for people. And indeed, in some of those countries, it's getting better, not worse, that they're using the coronavirus as an opportunity to try to improve and address some of these structural issues. We are not doing that in the United States. The institutions are eroding. So the power is there, but the soft power, American exceptionalism, probably time to put that to bed right now.

And as an American and as someone who certainly sees myself as patriotic, that hurts. But patriotism in the United States is also about criticizing your country when they're not getting their act together and aspiring to be something greater. And you can't tell others what to do if you're not getting it right yourself. I mean, perhaps more importantly, it's not about telling other countries what to do, it's rather about them seeing themselves, that they actually aspire to have a system that looks more like yours. Well, right now, I think a lot of Americans aspire to have a system that functions a little bit better for us. And I hope that that's something we can work on, but I am not super confident about that in the near term. This election is going to be tough. The transition's going to be tough, and Biden's going to come into office with one of the most constrained hands of any President. Certainly, since Jimmy Carter. We know how that went.

See you guys soon. Be safe and avoid people.

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