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Joe Biden will not pursue unity at all costs as he seeks to heal wounds deeper than any the United States has experienced in 160 years.
Professor Robert Patman believes the new US president and vice-president Kamala Harris can do a lot in what will be a ‘‘hard slog’’ to undo the mistrust and polarisation that emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency.
‘‘I think if he can convince Americans in the first three months that, unlike the previous administration, he is focused on an issue [Covid-19] that affects all Americans irrespective of their gender and ethnicity, then I think that may be a big plus in him beginning to get more unity in the country,’’ Prof Patman, of the University of Otago, says.
Watch full interview here:
But Biden will draw the line at allowing a role in policy making for politicians who continue to claim the election was stolen from Trump, Prof Patman says.
More than 20% of Republican representatives accepted Trump's false narrative, despite leading Republican figures including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan saying Biden won fairly.
More than 60 lawsuits pursued by the Trump campaign have been thrown out of court, except for one that discovered two dead people were recorded as voting for Trump.
‘‘I think that Biden’s emphasis on unity is important, but it doesn’t mean unity at all costs, it doesn’t mean you allow people who do not accept the democratic outcome to have a say in policy making.
"And I think they will be very firm on that.’’
In his Global Insight interview, Prof Patman addressed the divisions in US society, the ongoing threat of ‘‘alternative facts’’and a likely return to evidence-based decision-making.