On November 7, the very date 48 years ago when he became the sixth-youngest senator in American history, Joseph Biden achieved another political milestone by becoming the 46th president-elect of the United States.
He will set another record by the time he is inaugurated in January 2021, becoming the oldest president in US history at age 78. He will enter a White House that was occupied by Richard Nixon when he first entered the Senate.
Another interesting fact about the next President of the United States is that he won the office on his third attempt in three decades.
This is an indication of the depth of his experience in US politics—as vice president from 2009 to 2017 and as the Senator for Delaware from 1973 to 2009—which he will have to draw from deeply in the coming months and years as he takes over the reins of a deeply divided United States of America.
The extent of the fracture in US society is clear in the results from the recently concluded polls. While Mr Biden was able to defeat incumbent Donald Trump in the race for the White House, the widely predicted Democratic landslides in Senate and House races didn’t materialise.
Not only did the Democrats lose some ground in the House, although the party still maintains control there but, the Republicans are also likely to retain their majority in the Senate.
The results also suggest that the party of President Trump continued to make inroads with non-white voters, Latinos and non-college-educated white people, contrary to what had been suggested in pre-election opinion polls.
Mr Biden’s firm belief in the value of bipartisanship will have to see him through the next four years. He will have to seek co-operation across the aisle on Capitol Hill to solve America’s pressing problems.
Another challenge will be to further cement his support among African-Americans and to demonstrate during his presidency that he truly is a champion of the blue-collar white voter.
For T&T and the rest of the Caribbean, the concern will be whether a Biden administration will bring any benefits to this part of the hemisphere. The US has been paying less attention to the Latin American and Caribbean region, and the political and economic crisis in Venezuela has further complicated the situation.
This Government’s stance of non-interference has been a source of strain in its bilateral relations with Washington. Whether there will be a warming of those relations remains to be seen.
For the wider Caribbean, there will be some interest in how the incoming US government will approach long-standing issues of security and immigration.
There is also the more pressing issue of the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a devastating effect on regional economies. President-elect Biden has made defeating the coronavirus an immediate priority for his administration but no indication so far that any interventions will extend to support for battered Caribbean nations.
Early indications are that the divided nation that he is inheriting from President Trump will be his first and toughest test.