Biden has beaten Trump to become US president – but what happens next?

In normal times, the transition from one American presidency to the next is a pretty dull affair, a matter of practicalities and technicalities, teams of officials peacefully handing over power.

As with everything in American politics in 2020, the Trump-Biden transition will be unlike any the country has seen.

Biden has claimed victory in the election and made it clear his focus is on being ready for office come Inauguration Day on Wednesday January 20.

Even someone as superstitious as him, wary of taking anything for a granted, has been working on the transition outline for months.

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What might a Biden presidency look like?

But the background noise of the current president, decrying the process, challenging the outcome and seeking legal redress, will haunt the coming weeks.

There are two movies playing out across America – one features Biden as the clear winner of a fair election and a new direction for the country.

The other shows a discontented Trump and a band of his supporters throwing out legal threats and complaints.

More from Donald Trump

  • US election 2020: ‘Bad things happened’ – Trump makes new unfounded claims of electoral fraud

  • US election 2020: Biden predicts election win with a ‘clear majority’, giving him a ‘mandate for action’

  • US election 2020: Biden’s lead grows in Pennsylvania – and so does the crowd of angry Trump supporters

  • US Election 2020: Republicans hit back at ‘dangerous’ Donald Trump comments trashing election fairness

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  • US election 2020: Joe Biden says he has ‘clear majority’ and on course for convincing win

In such divided times, Americans will have to pick which blockbuster they want to watch.

Running mates: The Democrats hope the Biden-Harris ticket will lead to the White House
Image:Winning partnership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Biden and Kamala Harris will take comfort in the history-making number of votes their ticket has received and see it is a mandate for their agenda.

Their vision for America has been well publicised: on COVID-19, on climate change, on race and inequality, on healthcare. On most fronts it is the polar opposite to Donald Trump‘s vision.

On the pandemic, the election has concluded at a time when the country is facing surging case numbers and a seeming political paralysis on dealing with its fall-out.

And Biden will face a divided US Congress with the Senate in Republican hands, for now at least, and recent history suggesting that can mean nothing but stalemate.

Part of Biden’s sales pitch to the American people was his ability to reach across the aisle during his own decades serving in the Senate.

He believes he can do that as president and has begun to reach out to old friends.

But he and Harris, herself a senator of course, will face a Senate that operates in a very different political environment these days.

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US news network cuts away from Trump statement

If they can do business with enough Republicans, they may be able to move the country in the direction they hope. If not, there are a gruelling four years ahead.

Much will depend on how quickly the defeated president and his supporters accept the decision of the American people, and the temperature can be lowered.

Before he takes office, Joe Biden has the small matter of turning 78 on November 20. He will be the oldest person ever to assume the presidency.

It has become a tradition for outgoing presidents to leave a letter to their successor in the desk drawer in the Oval Office.

After this campaign, we can only imagine what Donald Trump’s parting message to Joe Biden will be.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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