While the election’s results demonstrated an “era of hyper-activism,” they also reflect Americans’ want for “competent, more moderate leadership,” Republican strategist Bruce Mehlman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Now more than ever, Americans believe they need to speak out, they need to march, they need to protest… [and] they need to vote,” Mehlman, whose reports have long guided policymakers and strategists, told the DCNF. But, Mehlman also said that Americans wanted “competent, more moderate leadership.”
“In the case of the presidency, [Americans] chose to give the keys to Joe Biden,” Mehlman said, “At the same time, you saw voters suggesting that [they] don’t want to support a more progressive agenda. Rather, they want a much narrower approach to governance,” he added.
Though Biden won 306 electoral votes – mirroring Trump’s total from four years ago – Democrats found little success down-ballot. Republicans reached 50 senate seats Wednesday after Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan won reelection, pinning Democrats’ path to the majority to two runoffs in Georgia, and multiple GOP candidates unexpectedly won in the House, leaving Democrats with a narrower majority than two years ago. (RELATED: Trump Lost, But Down-Ballot Republicans Won)
In addition to facing what could be a divided Congress, Biden also will likely take office amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic and the early stages of the vaccine distribution. Despite the daunting circumstances, Mehlman said that his approach to combating the virus was part of the reason he was elected in the first place.
“I think Biden has been pretty dignified on the pandemic the whole time,” he said. “He’s taken it very seriously, he’s tried to follow the blocking of Fauci and other experts, it’s been the issue that he’s run on.”
As a result, Biden needs to “start his presidency more focused on the pandemic,” Mehlman added, noting how previous presidents had begun their tenures with transformational – and polarizing – policy goals.
“This becomes a confidence-building exercise… Both sides need to work together, and even if each play is only three yards and a cloud of dust, if you keep putting that together you’ll end up marching down-field,” he said. “He’s going to have to get Republicans on board and he’s going to have to work things through, and that means start small and grow instead of starting huge and seeing what happens in the Midterms.”
Mehlman’s report outlines how the possibility of government actually getting things done may be more realistic under Biden than Trump, noting Biden’s willingness to reach across the aisle, work with Republican legislators and compromise for the good of the country. Not only does Biden retain an optimistic view of the GOP, but Biden is well aware of his role as a transitional figure; “he’s trying to govern well rather than lead a revolution,” Mehlman wrote.
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