Editor’s note: This week’s Future View discusses early priorities for President Biden. For next week, we’ll ask students what they make of the president’s policy changes allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military and letting transgender high-school girls compete on girls’ sports teams. Students should click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before Feb. 2. The best responses will be published that night.
President Biden inherits a deeply polarized nation. He must fulfill his promise, made during his campaign and inaugural address, to instill unity. Fixing our polarization demands something other than business as usual. It requires cultivating a nontribal, no-nonsense environment in which legislators have no option but to cooperate.
Mr. Biden should harness the presidential veto power to reject any legislation that doesn’t receive support from at least 20% of the opposition. The constraint would force lawmakers to come to creative compromises, crafting legislation that the broad majority of the country would support. This would set the tone for the American public, demonstrating that civility and cooperation are possible.
—Asher Ellis, Yale University, applied mathematics
Electoral Reform Now
If President Biden truly cares about unity, one of his first acts in office must be to prevent a repeat of the 2020 election and strengthen election integrity. Whether or not you believe voter fraud played a role in the outcome, everyone can recognize that trust in the system has been eroded.
Following the contentious 2000 and 2004 elections, former President
and Secretary of State
James A. Baker
formed a bipartisan commission to address election integrity. The commission published a 91-page report that addressed election security in detail. Their recommendations were largely ignored.
While it is up to states to create and enforce election rules, the Biden administration has an opportunity to lead the way with a bipartisan committee of its own. There are many changes to consider. A nationwide database of registered voters could help address claims that people commit fraud by voting in multiple states. States could agree to expand the pool of eligible voters to include certain types of felons, a policy favored by liberals, in exchange for requiring photo ID to vote, a policy favored by conservatives. Balanced suggestions and compromises could well be adopted, restoring confidence in the way we vote.
—Ethan Selko, University of Maryland, College Park, finance
Reunite Separated Families
Under President Biden, I would like to see changes in the aggressive tactics used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During the Trump administration, children were separated from their parents and people who had been living in the U.S. for years were arrested and deported. Fear set in quickly and reverberated around the country. Mr. Biden has already announced a 100-day pause on deportations. He now needs to use these 100 days to reunite families, reverse Trump-era policies and replace them with more humane solutions.
—Elizabeth Fabbri, Quinnipiac University, law (J.D.)
The Next American Foreign Policy
President Biden must make America’s commitment to challenging the economic rise of China clear from the outset of his administration. After four years of a punitive trade war, the U.S. remains directionless on combating the economic espionage that has gutted its companies and fueled China’s rise over the past two decades. With rare bipartisan agreement on the Chinese threat, Mr. Biden has an opportunity to unite Americans behind a common cause and a coherent foreign policy—something the U.S. has lacked since the early 1990s.
Secretary of State
has emphasized the need for Washington to challenge China from a “position of strength.” This should include reaffirming America’s alliances and forming stronger bonds with China’s regional adversaries, such as India. A united front will have the leverage to limit Chinese access to international markets and capital if it fails to meet its World Trade Organization obligations. A coalition should also be able to offer developing nations a healthy alternative to the debt traps of the Belt and Road Initiative.
—Cameron Miller, University of California, Los Angeles, computer science
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