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The tasks ahead

Nonetheless, the legal challenges mounted ~ and threatened ~ by Mr Trump will keep the Democratic Party engaged at least until the inauguration next January and perhaps later.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

While supporters of Donald Trump remind each other of the 2000 Presidential election which was called for Democrat Al Gore but adjudged to have been won by George W Bush, the points of contention following this year’s race would appear to have been overwhelmed by the sheer difference in electoral college votes between the two contenders, a conclusion now accepted even by the Republican-friendly Fox News network.

Nonetheless, the legal challenges mounted ~ and threatened ~ by Mr Trump will keep the Democratic Party engaged at least until the inauguration next January and perhaps later. For now, as the world and at least some gracious Republicans join most Americans in congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, for each having scripted history in their own ways ~ he as the oldest man to step into the White House and she for being the first woman, the first person of colour and the first born to immigrants to become Vice-President ~ it is important to focus attention on the important tasks ahead of them.

First, they must attempt to heal the sharp cleavages in American society, caused by a recklessly divisive incumbent. Indeed, Mr Biden sought to address this challenge immediately after the election was called in his favour by reaching out to all Americans regardless of who they had voted for. While words and pronouncements may paper over some differences for now, his plans to revive the economy amid pressures from several disadvantaged groups will be watched closely by Republican supporters fed with dire warnings of a Communist takeover by Mr Trump.

Next, they must put into place their plans for countering the coronavirus threat to both public health and the American economy even as the country continues to record more than 100,000 afflictions daily and has notched up nearly a quarter million deaths. Reports say that Mr. Biden has already firmed up plans to set in place a high-profile task force on Covid-19 that is likely to include former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy among others. But the true test of a Biden presidency may come soon from the state of Georgia where two Senate elections are due shortly before Mr. Trump lays down office.

At present, the two parties are locked at 48 seats each in the Senate, and the Georgia runoff could determine just how effective Mr. Biden will be as America’s 46th President. A majority in the Senate will give Mr Biden a free hand in key appointments and a chance to push forward his legislative agenda. The Republicans are expected to throw in everything they possess to secure the two seats as they have already said they see the Senate as the “last line of defence.”

The Democrats have not won a Senate seat in Georgia in the past two decades, and the vote in the Presidential election has shown the state’s vote almost evenly divided between the two parties. The most potent weapon in the Republican arsenal is undoubtedly Mr. Trump, and it is perhaps appreciation of his considerable support base that has compelled many of his party colleagues to echo his allegations of electoral fraud. Certainly, the next eight to ten weeks will define the contours of the Biden presidency.