Opinion | How Joe Biden Can Unify the Country

We had asked readers what they thought was the greatest challenge facing the president-elect and what advice they would give him. We published several responses on Saturday. Below are a few more, reflecting the most common answer: the need to heal a divided country.

To the Editor:

Joe Biden’s greatest challenge will be trying to win the trust of the more than 73 million people who voted for President Trump. This matters if we are ever to have a chance of returning to some form of normalcy.

Proposal: During his first 100 days he should hold town halls with just Trump voters. He should ask them to share what most worries them. He should listen carefully. After those town halls he should report publicly on what concerns were most prevalent, and what concrete steps his administration will be taking to try to address those concerns in a reasonable and balanced way.

David Shine
Armonk, N.Y.

To the Editor:

President Biden’s big challenge will be unifying the country. He should take a page from F.D.R.’s playbook and bring back some form of the “fireside chat.”

Barack Obama was a great president but aloof. He needed to toot his own horn, let the country know about his administration’s good work. Donald Trump, on the other hand, crowed about make-believe accomplishments and insulted the intelligence of many Americans.

Joe Biden is warm, honest and genuine. He may not win over all disbelievers, but it can’t hurt to let everyone know on a regular basis that he cares, what his administration is working on to revive America and why folks shouldn’t believe untrue allegations coming from the opposition.

How great it would be to have a president who treats us all as adults!

John Stearns
Mountain View, Calif.

To the Editor:

Joe Biden will have any number of “greatest challenges” to choose from, but the greatest — and arguably most important — will be to bring as many Trump supporters as possible on board with the notion that Mr. Biden is the president of all of us, not just those who voted for him. It has been four long years since we had such a president, and it won’t be easy.

Therefore I suggest that Mr. Biden begin immediately to contact influencers in sports, film, music, theater, motorcycle enthusiasts — people who supported President Trump but who can see the value in a nation united rather than divided. Make them presidential emissaries, or ambassadors, who will take to social media and television (Fox News, for instance) in order to reach the people who need to hear the message.

And it is a simple one: I know how you feel, because I also voted for Mr. Trump. I’m as disappointed as you are. But I also know that this nation is suffering in many ways, and we have to fix this. Are you with me?

Linda Levy
Lawrenceville, N.J.

To the Editor:

The greatest challenge to the Biden presidency, and to the country as a whole, is this fact: Almost 50 percent of our nation believes Trumpian rhetoric. President Trump’s lies run the gamut of disinformation, from the corruption of science (the severity of Covid is a hoax; climate change isn’t dangerous) to the corruption of American values.

The Biden administration must undo the damage done by Trumpian disinformation. Mr. Biden should mount a nationwide communications campaign to bring science and our national values back to our social dialogue. Educate people about how democracy is destroyed. Or saved.

In addition, Mr. Biden should push to strike down or modify Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Internet providers must take responsibility, as publishers do, for spreading lies, hate and disinformation.

Celia Watson Seupel
High Falls, N.Y.

To the Editor:

The greatest challenge facing Joe Biden’s presidency is holding the two wings of the Democratic Party together. If he succeeds, the Democrats may be able to achieve some of their goals. Without control of the Senate, he would have to confine himself to issues popular with the general public.

He should aim for what progressives might consider insufficient: protecting and improving Obamacare to bring it closer to universal health care, assistance for displaced workers and job training, reinstating pollution controls canceled by President Trump, an increase in the minimum wage, a substantial pandemic stimulus program, paid parental and sick leave, universal pre-K and easing the cost of higher education.

Progressives should understand that achieving even modest goals in the next two years is essential to electoral success in 2022, after which more aggressive programs may be within reach. Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, defunding the police and decriminalizing illegal immigration are nonstarters. If the progressive wing holds out for more, it will achieve nothing now or later. Mr. Biden’s most important battle will be maintaining unity within his own party.

Stephen W. Stein
New York

To the Editor:

Joe Biden’s biggest challenge will be to unite this country so we can all pull in the same direction to defeat Covid, restart the economy, fight racial injustice, open up economic opportunities across all social classes and regain respect around the world.

Of utmost importance, he must help us renew our faith in, and dedication to, our democratic values and institutions. My advice? Keep being who you are: calm, confident, compassionate and communicative.

Surround yourself with highly qualified and ethical public servants who reflect the diversity of the country. Step across the aisle, listen and compromise. Move us forward. Restore our spirit and pride. Don’t give up. Don’t let our democracy die. We need you desperately.

Myra Fournier
Bedford, Mass.

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