An opportunity for transformational leadership

Joe Biden is on a path to become the next president of the United States, and at first glance it seems like one tending toward incremental change. While the contrast between Biden and Donald Trump is stark, the president-elect will inherit a divided nation and a divided Congress. He is a cautious pragmatist with a four-decade-long, centrist record in politics.

And yet, however unlikely it might look at the moment, Biden also has a path to become a transformational president.

The depth of crisis facing our nation combined with unprecedented global challenges, at a time when the geopolitical environment has profoundly shifted in unfavorable ways for the United States, present the incoming administration with an historic opportunity. A President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris could seize that opportunity by leveraging renewal at home to rally allies and partners for global common cause.

Biden seems both to recognize the opportunity and inclined to take it on. Despite his modesty, Biden’s ambitions are monumental. After all, he framed his campaign as a battle for the soul of America. He has called for restoring our moral leadership as a prerequisite for progress on other challenges.

In combining attributes such as decency and respect with political acumen and long-term relationships, he is well-positioned to cultivate bipartisan consensus and earn public support at home, while forging a new model of US leadership in a world that has become more reluctant to follow America’s lead.

This task begins at home.

Biden’s foreign policy agenda will be grounded in his commitment to investing in the domestic sources of our strength, including our democracy. This will involve efforts ranging from expanding voting access to building a majority in Congress to support investments in science and technology, research and development, STEM education, 21st-century infrastructure, and a modern immigration policy. Such reforms will be aimed at fulfilling Biden’s goal of leading with “the power of our example” as an effective alternative to China’s brand of state-led authoritarian capitalism.

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