Addressing the coronavirus crisis, the problems of racial inequality and restoring relations with other nations will be some of the challenges facing the new president of the United States. In the end, we are facing a challenge of assertive communication that will generate confidence in the other 50% of the United States that voted for Trump’s continuity.
On January 20, Joe Biden and his vice-president Kamala Harris assumed the leadership of the White House, after a controversial election. The president-elect will have to face major challenges such as dealing with the coronavirus, fighting social unrest due to racial inequality, re-establishing or improving relations with other nations, and strengthening health policies, among other difficulties.
Covid-19 will undoubtedly be one of the main challenges for Joe Biden, as it generated a crisis that impacts the country in the economic, political and social spheres in a cross-cutting manner. The fight against the new coronavirus was one of the banners of his electoral campaign and now he will have to work to materialize the initiatives he promoted during the race. Some of them are the creation of a national testing program to provide free testing for the entire population, the creation of at least ten diagnostic centers in the 50 states of the country and the hiring of 100,000 people to establish a national screening program.
The pandemic will not be the president-elect’s only challenge in this area. Although covid-19 made evident the breach that exists in the access to U.S. healthcare systems, the problem goes back months and years. In March, for example, when the health crisis was just gaining momentum in the country, 8.5 percent of Americans, or some 27 million people, did not have access to the health system.
This reality led Joe Biden to announce efforts to strengthen activities related to the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare’. The Act has three main objectives and aims to make insurance more accessible, support innovative methods of care delivery that reduce health care costs, and expand Medicaid coverage, a program that seeks to benefit the elderly population of the United States.
Finally, in relation to health, Joe Biden will have to strengthen the public’s confidence in science and its advances. In the midst of the pandemic, anti-vaccine movements are gaining more and more strength and according to the Center to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), the ‘anti-vaxxers’ or anti-vaccine people constitute a mass of 58 million people on social networks.
Racism and apparent abuse of power
The racial segregation that has pervaded the United States for decades has led to the creation of political and social movements such as Black Lives Matter, which seeks to counter racist practices and acts in the country. The movement, which also seeks to curb apparent police abuse and racially motivated violence against African-Americans, gained even more strength in May 2020, after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, choked George Floyd.
Since his murder, there have been at least 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests in 2,000 locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a recount made by Princeton University and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled), an organization that researches protests around the world. With this scenario in mind, Joe Biden will have to promote true inclusion of minorities and work to restore confidence in the police forces of a significant part of the population.
During his campaign, Biden assured that he would reestablish the relations between the United States and traditional allies such as the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); with multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization; and that he would return to treaties to fight climate change such as the Paris Agreement. But the real challenge will come when it comes to establishing a position vis-à-vis China, a country with which there has been a trade, tariff and technological war for years. At the close of this analysis, there are still no clear indications as to what the relationship between Washington and Beijing will be like, as well as with other nations such as Russia, Iran, North Korea, Turkey, Venezuela, Cuba, among others.
Another campaign promise by Joe Biden was to take steps to restrict the carrying and manufacture of assault weapons and high-capacity cartridges, a measure that could affect the National Rifle Association, a Republican Party supporter, so achieving this will not necessarily be an easy task. The initiative also hopes to repeal the law that protects gun manufacturers from civil liability for the products they market. For the president-elect, this is the way to reduce the number of people who die each year in the United States as a result of firearms injuries, which is around 40,000.
Knowing how to communicate, another difficulty or a great opportunity
During the election campaign, Joe Bieden promised to govern for all Americans, a complex task considering that he will inherit a fragmented nation, as evidenced by the November 2020 elections. The president-elect will not only have to gain the trust of those who voted for Donald Trump through clear and inclusive messages, he will also have to identify the channels he will use, since according to Statitsta, a commercial data platform, 42 percent of Americans do not believe in the media. With this in mind, Biden will have to leverage social networks such as Twitter, where he has close to 24 million followers, and Instagram, where he has over 15 million. This is critical; the lack of trust in the media has led many to prefer officials’ official accounts for information.