The president's hurt locker

During the next four years we will figure out whether it takes a consummate insider like Mr. Biden to “drain the swamp.” As a tragic hero, he will walk the fine line of Cervantes’ Don Quixote on a razor blade between tragedy and slapstick comedy. Trump’s 70 million votes will be the monumental mountain he will be working up against.

Perhaps we are missing something here. Well, why would you indeed? Perhaps I, am missing something here. Maybe, the biggest and best news here is the fact over 70 million people cast their ballots for their preferred candidates respectively is the real breath of fresh air following the U.S. presidential elections. 

Again perhaps, the other big news is the fact that Ms. Kamala Harris, a woman born to Tamil Brahmin and Jamaican parents became the Vice President. Just imagine a potential 2024 presidential race between Ms. Nikki Haley, a Punjabi Sikh woman and Ms. Kamala Harris: Wouldn’t that convey an inspiring story about democracy and equal opportunity to the world? After all, both have previous wins under their belts, one was a senator and the other a governor. 

To look at the very same story just unfolding before our eyes, much lay now in the hands of Mr. Biden. At the height of his 78 years of age, with his decades long experience in the Senate and as President Obama’s VP, he is now standing in front of a gigantic “make or break” moment. It would not be a metaphorical exaggeration in my opinion: If President elect Biden cuts the red cable instead of the blue one, he may inadvertently blow the entire globe up.

Self-proclaimed anti-imperialists who are no more than mere provincialists try to look the other way and minimise the importance of this last U.S. elections for the world. Not that, all will become rosy overnight. But, depending on Mr. Biden’s way of making use of this opportunity, this historic moment may turn out to be a humble beginning in the hands of a man of humble beginnings. Mr. Biden may or may not be remembered as the “healer-in-chief” following his reign.

President Lyndon B. Johnson listens to Martin Luther King Jr. In 1966. LBJ LIBRARY – Photo: YOICHI OKAMOTO

As for his foreign policy, as well as for his domestic policy, Mr. Biden will need to wait and see whether the Democrats will be able to clinch that agonizingly slimmest possible majority (50-50 with VP Harris tipping the balance) at the Senate. If that becomes the case, then I believe the chances will be higher for us to witness a second LBJ in domestic reform and a second Truman in foreign policy restoration.  “Hope, is the poor man’s bread” as we say down here in Turkish.

The voting patterns in these last presidential elections seem to tell us a story. As Dr. Akın Ünver, an associate professor at KHAS University in Istanbul, underlines, the distinction between agglomerations with higher and lower population than 100.000 is striking. The more one goes metropolitan the more the votes turn blue. And the more one goes rural, vice versa, the vote turns red. Inside every state and across the country as well.

How every county voted/ New York Times

Yet, to my mind another in a way bold question remains: Which one represents the future of the US best, Texas or Silicon Valley? Another fine political analyst who also happens to teach at KHAS, Mr. Soli Özel was kind of hammering in months before the election the assessment that the future of the US will much depend on the direction Texas will choose. Hence I had a close-up look and well, both Mr. Biden in person and the Democrats in general appear to have taken a spectacular beating in the lone star state.

How every county voted in Texas/ KSAT.com

Already, as an undercurrent, an apparent stampede is under way to be the next Republican candidate at the 2024 race. Mr. Pompeo, Ms. Haley, Mr. Pence, Mr. Cotton are all contenders and why not even Mr. Trump himself is one.  What do these house hold names represent? Will the society be at the meeting for them by 2024? What kind of world will we be living in that post-COVID19 world? How will the U.S.-China antagonism play out by then?

There aren’t easy answers to these questions, if there are any at all that is. For yours truly, the easier answers are the ones to be provided about the initial period of US foreign policy in the Middle East and about Turkey-US bilateral relations. In short, I personally keep my expectations at a minimum low and do not expect a radical change neither right away nor into the middle of Mr. Biden’s presidential term.   

I would venture to guess that Ms. Harris will take on some thorny parts of the foreign policy portfolio as Mr. Biden himself was assigned by Mr. Obama in his time. That would include running the direct communication channel with Mr. Erdoğan, or to put it in another way, Mr. Erdoğan would not be inclined to have any lower positioned officials in the Biden administration than Ms. Harris as his primary interlocutor.

During the next four years we will figure out whether it takes a consummate insider like Mr. Biden to “drain the swamp.” A true political operator, who can be at ease both at the diner and in Davos, he seems to be leaning towards the former. As a tragic hero, he will walk the fine line of Cervantes’ Don Quixote on a razor blade between tragedy and slapstick comedy. Trump’s 70 million votes will be the monumental mountain he will be working up against.   

In the international arena, there is no point in lamenting the demise of a rule based order as it did never exist. As a newly crowned emperor Mr. Biden will need to step up its country’s game in a smarter way. He will need to prove the world that the American exceptionalism was not a hollow legend, or the future of democracies around the world will be bleaker. That is no easy task for sure. Ms. Harris, will need to double him up in diplomacy, so that he will have his hands free to do the healing. 

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