As we witness the craziest transition in history, Joe Biden is already starting to move his pieces around the chessboard. All of these announcements point in the same direction: a return to the situation that prevailed before the Trump presidency.
If the outgoing president was too often messy and impulsive, I recognize at least two strengths: he shook a frozen system and allowed many voters abandoned by this same system to express themselves. It’s not nothing.
The elected president is a product of the American system in which he has been operating for decades. He knows all the cogs and all the main players. I have no doubts about the competence of the people with whom he will surround himself. The appointments that will be made tomorrow will go in this direction.
That Joe Biden favors people he knows well and whose expertise is recognized should not surprise, it will even be a reassuring aspect for many. But is this necessarily a good thing? If we need to get out of the chaos in which the country has been entangled for four years, should we nevertheless reproduce the errors that allowed the election of Donald Trump?
I hope that the new president will show a bit of daring and that he will bring new faces to his team. If there is no deep state, there is indeed too much of a hold of a small group of insiders on the system.
Many Americans, and not just Republicans, deplore the fact that their elected officials are less and less representative of their reality. The phenomenon is not new, but the fed up is more evident than ever.
Throughout the electoral campaign, and even more since his victory, the former vice-president carries a message that wants to unite. The objective is noble, but the elected Republicans show no appetite for the thing. Uniting such a divided country is a titanic task, and I doubt Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell will put his shoulder to the wheel.
The chances of success therefore seem slim to me, but Biden could help his own cause by breaking out of the ruts, by integrating a new generation of thinkers. John F. Kennedy tried the experiment in 1961. After recruiting a few veterans who served under his predecessors, he opened the door to new ideas by recruiting outside the usual circles.
The team assembled by JFK, whom David Halberstam ironically nicknamed “the best and the brightest”, had its share of failures, especially in the Vietnamese dossier. Despite the pitfalls, she also embodied the renewal and allowed Lyndon Johnson, the successor of JFJ after the assassination of 1963, to write some beautiful pages of the domestic politics of this period.