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In a divided Washington, Biden has some paths to unity, Northeastern experts say

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as their children Ashley and Hunter watch.

President Joe Biden’s inaugural pledge to heal the country’s divisions and close the yawning gap between red and blue states is what the nation needs to hear, Northeastern faculty experts say, but he will likely face political headwinds early.

Biden’s actions and words can at least help stem further partisan rifts, they add.

With a political honeymoon that faculty predict will be short, Biden can still score a few quick points by appointing a Republican to a senior role in his nascent administration, says Dan Urman, who teaches constitutional law, law and public policy, and the modern U.S. Supreme Court at Northeastern.

“Bill Clinton, reflecting on his presidency, said that he regretted not doing so in his initial cabinet,” he adds. Clinton later tapped a Republican U.S. Senator from Maine, Bill Cohen, to serve as defense secretary in his second term.

Biden has nominated fellow Democrats to his cabinet and other senior positions, but could create a White House role for a Republican. As an olive branch to the 74 million voters who backed his predecessor, Donald Trump, Biden could also visit states that didn’t support him to show that they are being heard, Urman says. “He is president of all Americans,” he adds. “They deserve Biden’s eyes, ears, and heart.”

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