On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden rolled out his Security Team. Consistent with the season, the results were something for which to be profoundly grateful. As I watched, I was filled with an almost forgotten feeling—pride and relief mingled with hope.
For four years (more, if you count the 2016 Presidential campaign), information emanating out of the White House routinely filled me with embarrassment, outrage or dread (or a combination of all three). Yet, here was Joe Biden rolling out his security team, each a competent, seasoned professional with heart-warming personal stories symbolizing the broad diversity of the American spirit.
With almost military precision, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris led their team onto the stage in Wilmington, Delaware. Each took a previously designated spot and waited patiently until it was their time to speak. In this unveiling pageant, Joe Biden showed a surprising flare for political theatre. His security team appearing onstage as they did reminded one of scenes from the old Western, The Magnificent Seven (I’m dating myself, I know!) or Superhero films based on characters from Marvel Comics.
But this was no flight-of-fancy production. Instead, it was grounded in the hard reality of big national security issues that confront our country: immigration reform, climate change, restoring diplomatic norms, building relations with our allies, countering racism and exclusion. The podium was assiduously wiped down after each speaker, demonstrating what the Biden Harris ticket has evidenced throughout the campaign about the coronavirus pandemic: practicing health care protocols rather than simply talking about them, mocking them or denying them altogether. Yet, despite the discipline demonstrated in the team’s introduction, there was also an informal humanity generously woven into the scene, primarily through the sharing of personal stories.
How refreshing it was to experience this after weeks of denial and delay from the Trump administration and the refusal of so many of his followers to trust the election’s outcome. Indeed, the week began with a continuation of this stonewalling from the White House, prompting me to draft an entirely different post, “A Worst-Case Scenario,” where I imagined a dystopic future where Donald Trump continued to reject the results of the election. As his feckless legal shenanigans failed again and again in court and as he was unable to convince officials to betray their oaths and decertify results that had been legally tallied, the President drew on his reality show instincts. He attacked the President-elect precisely at the moment of his greatest triumph and organized a counter-inauguration on January 20—which drew thousands of die-hard supporters and created chaos for the fledgling Biden presidency. Trump proclaimed it to be the opening salvo in his 2024 Presidential campaign.
But it’s Thanksgiving! And with Biden unveiling his team of avengers, a time for celebrating seemed in order and I abandoned the depressing fantasy and focused on the joy of witnessing the President-elect surrounded by experienced professionals. Nothing of course, is ever perfect—or permanent—and there are daunting challenges ahead.
A principle task for Joe Biden is to include more youthful leaders like AOC, Hakeem Jeffries, Ayanna Pressley, Julian Castro and Conor Lamb in his administration. (If you add in Janet Yellen—considered to be in line for Treasury Secretary—and Harris and Biden, the team announced so far averages close to 63 years of age.) Still, though there are difficult tests ahead (and look for the Biden administration to be challenged in my posts), it is Thanksgiving week—a time to savor a new direction in what has been a vindictive, mean-spirited culture in our country for far too long. Happy Thanksgiving!