Unifying a divided America will be Joe Biden’s great challenge: former DNC head

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The fight is far from over for new U.S. president-elect Joe Biden despite emerging as the projected winner from the most divisive and unprecedented presidential election in modern history.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson shortly after the Associated Press and other major American networks, including Fox News, called the race in Biden’s favour, former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said some of Biden’s greatest challenges still lie ahead.

“Biden’s first priority is trying to bring the country together. Now, that’s not going to be an easy task. The Trump people really almost are like a cult,” said the former Vermont governor.

Biden is set to become to 46th president of the United States following a long career in politics, and at 77, will become the oldest American president to take office when he is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021.

His running mate, Kamala Harris, will become the first female vice president as well as the first Black and Indian-American to hold the second most senior position in the American government.

Their win comes after a bitterly fought campaign and at a time when the country is grappling with systemic racism, deep inequalities and a raging coronavirus pandemic.

Dean said those challenges lie at the heart of many of the divisions facing the country now.

He said even though things like universal health care would benefit many of those Americans who voted for Trump out of anger and feel downtrodden, he expects it will still be a tough fight given the narrowly divided Congress and the real possibility that Republicans retain control of the Senate.

Two key races in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate are expected to head to run-off votes in early January. Their outcomes are expected to play a decisive role in whether the incoming Biden administration will see the majority of its agenda stalled in a Republican-controlled Senate.

“Trump has really poisoned the well. He’s certainly the most divisive president we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln, and Abraham Lincoln was a statesman.

“You could never accuse Trump of being a statesman.”

Trump has refused to concede and has launched several legal challenges to the tallies so far.

However, concession is not a requirement for a transfer of power.

The Biden campaign has already confirmed work is underway on steps toward transition, a time-consuming and demanding process behind-the-scenes as the mechanisms to hand over power begin to kick into play and key players begin to take shape.

Dean said while the election of Trump in 2016 reflected a changing America, it reflected the side still fighting against greater forces pushing for equalization of power and opportunity, and is not a reflection of where the country is going.

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