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Joe Biden Well-Positioned to Unite the Country
Dr. Louis Perron - Political Consultant Dr. Louis Perron - Political Consultant
Sunday, December 6, 2020


Donald Trump has never tried to unify the country. Ever since he came down the elevator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, his strategy was to please the base and to double down. Joe Biden, on the other hand, will at least try to bring the country together. He campaigned as a unifier and built a coalition ranging from the left wing of his party up to moderate Republicans. He therefore might very well govern as a unifier. "Let's give each other a chance", was the key sentence in that respect from his victory speech.

In the unlikely event that Democrats would win both Georgia Senate seats, they would be at a tie with Republicans in the Upper Chamber. In that event, Vice President Kamala Harris could break the tie and Democrats could technically control the Senate. The chances for it to happen are not big, however. And even if it does happen, we should not forget that the Democratic caucus is far from monolithic. I don't see Joe Manchin from West Virginia, for example, voting to defund the police anytime soon.

Even if the senate remains controlled by Republicans, divided government does not have to lead to a gridlock. In fact, some of the most impactful legislation happened when control of power was divided in Washington D.C. For example, this was the case for the civil rights legislation, the federal highway system, or social security reform. This is, of course, if the country wants to be unified.

I was once asked by a journalist what American campaigners could learn from Swiss election campaigns. Hm, very honestly, not much. On consensus building, however, Switzerland does indeed have lessons and experiences to offer. After all, consensus is the main theme Swiss polity is built on. A good illustration for this is our executive branch, which consists of seven people (we call them federal councilors), who govern as a team and who together fulfill the roles of a U.S. president and his cabinet. In that sense, a federal councilor is something between a president/prime minister and a cabinet member. The idea is that once elected, a federal councilor moves beyond partisanship and that once a decision is reached, the seven defend it in public together. Interestingly, much of this is based on unwritten rules of Swiss political culture, which goes to show that consensus building and unity foremost starts with a willingness to come together and share power.

Read my quote on how Joe Biden can unify the country in a piece written by crisis communication expert Edward Segal and published on Forbes.

Dr. Louis Perron is a political scientist, consultant and TEDx speaker based in Switzerland. During the past years, he has helped two dozen candidates and parties win election and referendum campaigns.

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