By Mohammad Mazhari

Biden faces tough task in bridging divides and advancing policies, Hunter predicts 

November 8, 2020 - 0:5
Georgetown University professor says “Trump's personal behavior is certainly an aberration”

TEHRAN - Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, says Joe Biden will face a “tough task in bridging the divides" in the American society, noting that "economic, cultural, and racial divisions in America have widened."

Hunter also predicts that with a Republican-dominated Senate, Biden will face difficulties to advance his campaign policies. 
“Republicans have kept the Senate, which would make the task of affecting economic and other changes more difficult,” Hunter tells the Tehran Times.

The following is the text of the interview:

Q: It seems that the November 3 election has turned into a controversial issue. Why does this election call into question whether America can preserve its democracy?

A:  Every time an election is close, as is the case with the 2020 elections, the likelihood of controversy increases. In such an election, every single vote count and a few votes can determine the fate of the elections. This is why Biden wants all votes counted, and Trump, where he is ahead, wants counting to stop. So far, the Supreme Court has not expressed any judgment on this matter.

Q: How do you read Trump's behavior when he questions the vote-counting process? Is he an exception in America's history?

A: Trump's personal behavior is certainly an aberration. However, some of his policies, like a desire to put American interests ahead of internationalist goals, prevent America's trading partners from taking advantage of it. His nationalistic discourse is not aberrations and reflects deeper trends.

Q: Regardless of who will win the election, how will the U.S. heal the rifts in which the society has been divided into two opposite groups?

A: Clearly, in recent years, economic, cultural, and racial divisions in America have widened. However, the perception of such a divide is stronger than its reality. The media generally focuses on the extremists in each camp and ignores the moderates. Nevertheless, Biden faces a tough task in bridging these divides. Republicans have kept the Senate, which would make the task of affecting economic and other changes more difficult. However, it also seems that both parties' extreme wings have realized that they need to make some concessions. Therefore, there might be a chance to reach a middle ground on many issues.

Also, Biden is a professional politician with long experience as a senator and would be better able to reach compromises with the Republicans.

Q: Do you agree that the Supreme Court has an outsized role in elections because it has become politicized? Is there any guarantee that the members of the Supreme Court be unbiased?

A: The president nominates and does not appoint Supreme Court judges. Their appointment requires Senate's approval. As to being political, everything in life, to some degree, is political because people compete for power and privilege. There is no guarantee that judges would vote in a non-partisan spirit. Burt judges, too, must keep their own reputation in mind and contend with public opinion. They cannot vote in ways that go completely against evidence. Such behavior would discredit them.

Q: It seems that the president in the American political structure has vast authority that may tempt him to exploit the power to serve his interests. The president nominates Supreme Court members, which has a key role in the elections in controversial cases. What is your comment?

A: The president has great constitutional powers. However, many of his/her decisions must be approved by Congress. There is the risk of abuse, but not to the extent of threatening democracy. Many of the comments made in this regard in the media derive from partisan politics. Nevertheless, democracy needs vigilance. Trump's defeat shows that, at least for now, Americans reject any abuse of presidential powers.

Q: Don't you think that the electoral system is threatening democracy in the United States as there have been candidates who have won popular votes but lost in the Electoral College.

A: The Electoral College was established so that states with smaller populations could also have a role in deciding who should be president. Otherwise, always states like New York, California, Texas, and Florida would determine elections' results. Given demographic and economic disparities among states, the Electoral College is a balancing mechanism. For instance, without the Electoral College, rural areas and small towns would have no say in deciding elections' results. There is a difference between democracy and majority rule.


  • 2020-11-08 07:20
    A very decent interview with good questions and excellent answers.

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