Let’s start the year off on the right foot by wishing the new president and his administration success in dealing with the many challenges we face as a nation. It behooves us all that he succeeds because his success is our nation’s success. No one who really cares for the future of our country will benefit, at least for long, from a failed presidency. There will, of course, be inevitable policy disagreements but I would urge my Republican friends to put aside the bitterness of the past, including Democrat attempts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency and accept these election results, seeking common ground with our Democratic friends. There is still more that unites us than divides us. My hope is that the Biden Administration will govern from the moderate center and I believe that this also is the wish of a majority of voters, just as it was following Bill Clinton’s 1992 election victory. Mr. Clinton failed to recognize this until it cost his party both houses of congress in 1994. His subsequent shift to the center won him easy reelection in 1996.
President-elect Joe Biden will need a running start because time and the world won’t stand still while we change leaders and staffs. There is no grace period while they settle in. Mr. Biden faces immediate challenges which he will own regardless of the fact that he inherited them. Domestically, the federal government must take whatever steps are necessary, including using the military, to ensure the availability and efficient distribution and use of the COVID-19 vaccines in order to get this pandemic under control and people back to work. Operation Warp Speed was brilliant but the vaccines aren’t getting into enough arms. Leaving it up to the individual states to figure out how to do it doesn’t appear to be working.
There will be a continued need for financial relief for businesses to reduce the number of business failures and the loss of jobs caused by the shutdown orders. This will add, of course, to the spiraling national debt already at dangerous levels. The public needs to be disabused of the increasingly popular notion that the federal debt doesn’t really matter anymore. It does and just printing more money to service it can eventually lead to a worthless dollar. The only way this level of debt can be sustained is through continued, robust economic expansion.
We need to move toward a more colorblind society. Identity politics and over-emphasis on inclusion and racial diversity will further divide, not unite, Americans. Martin Luther King yearned for a world where people are judged by their character, not by the color of their skin. It is insulting and patronizing to insist that some minorities will always need affirmative action and victim status in order to compete and to suggest that any success they achieve is not a result of their own effort and ability. Racial diversity should be a characteristic of a colorblind society, not a goal in itself or an excuse for racial quotas.
Eliminating remaining traces of racial injustice must remain a priority, but riots, arson, looting, violence and demonizing law enforcement weaken support for racial justice, make matters demonstrably worse and must cease. Plummeting morale and retention among police departments, many of them headed by black police chiefs in cities run by black mayors, has contributed, predictably, to rapidly increasing crime rates. Murders in the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country are up nearly 40% from last year. In Chicago, the rate is 55%. Nearly half go unsolved. Minority neighborhoods are the most impacted. Increasing crime is cited as one reason why some large cities are seeing declining populations.
While changing administrations always bring some change, governments function best when there is some continuity, especially in foreign policy. Both allies and rivals will be sizing up the Biden Administration to determine how any change in U.S. foreign policy will affect them. We need to avoid drastic changes which raise uncertainty regarding how we stand on defending our vital interests and supporting our allies. We need to speak with one voice on issues like freedom of navigation, the future of Taiwan, support of NATO and relations with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. With respect to Taiwan in particular, the People’s Republic of China needs to know what actions taken by them against Taiwan would be unacceptable to the U.S. and what that might mean. The Japanese government has already reportedly requested clarification on our position on this issue which can only be described as vague.
Thanks to negotiations headed by Jared Kushner, Morocco has joined the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in recognizing Israel which has done more to stabilize relations in the Middle East and serve as a counterbalance to Iran than the efforts of any previous U.S. administration. These efforts should continue and Biden should not pursue his promised efforts to rejoin the flawed nuclear agreement with Iran or relax sanctions.
Finally, we are a maritime nation with global vital interests which require a global presence. In spite of increased defense expenditures by the Trump Administration, our naval forces are still insufficient in numbers of fully-capable and deployable ships to meet all our commitments without extended deployments. Our navy needs to be sized, not by comparing it to the size of potential adversaries, but by determining what we need to meet our commitments. This means more ships and because of the lengthy timelines required to procure them, additional funding and shipbuilding capability is needed now.
This is a partial list, of course. More to follow.