You don’t need us to tell you that expectations are pretty high right now.
And no one needs to remind you how much is at stake. Nor do any of us need to outline the challenges ahead. They are formidable. And critical for the next steps.
Yes, you have to move us through the pandemic. And you have to get the economy up and running again. You need to unite the Divided States of America. Above all, you have to lead, and do so with dignity.
We do not presume to know how to run a country. But we do have some advice for you.
First, Joe, you need to overcommunicate. And don’t do it on social media. Tell us what you are doing and why. Tell us what your expectations are, and how you expect to achieve them. Be painfully clear when you communicate to the American people.
And when you are talking to us, please remind us — a lot because we need to trust our leaders — how we all fit into the equation. X cannot equal Joe Biden. X is always us. (Little us and big U.S.) “We” and “us” should be the most common pronouns in your vernacular.
Abide by the oath you take today. You cannot deviate from it, Joe. Never. That oath to this nation, under God, needs to be a sacred vow toward truth and justice. Swear to us, Joe, that you will honor our branches of government, the checks and balances, the protocols, the diplomacy. Promise us you will not break the law (or even hint that you can). Color within the lines, Joe, and make sure the colors are always not just black and white, red or blue.
Be gracious, Joe. Be courteous, Joe. And when you mess up, own it, learn from it, and be contrite. Politics has become a game of masking intent as well as deception. How about playing it straight.
To that end, Joe, focus your attention on consensus-building. Sure, a lot of the final word can be yours. But it will go a lot better for you if you bring all of the parties into the Roosevelt Room, let everyone get the political rhetoric and posturing off the chests, and then insist that every side be heard, that the group as a whole reaches some kind of consensus. And, for heaven’s sake, Joe, remember that compromise is always about everybody getting something — not all or nothing. Everyone walks away a little dissatisfied, but a step closer to a better conclusion.
Be obedient to solutions, and problem-solving. Lead with heart, Joe.
To do that, you need a good team. You’ve been building one. But rely on your vice president and your Cabinet. Trust their opinions and feedback. Take their constructive criticisms and advice, and let all of those points of view help shape your decisions — not who benefits most, or bowing to who is the loudest voice.
Always be mindful of Citizens United, Joe. You’ve done this long enough to know how the money game is played. You’ve been working with (and campaigned against) some smart people — one of whom hails from our Brave Little State — who can remind you (in a strong Brooklyn accent) that you should do all you can not to be swayed by big money, corporations. Remember the policy building is aimed at all Americans, not just the Americans who can pay their way to have a conversation in your vicinity. Don’t ever let the money do the talking for you, Joe. It will force you into lies and promises you cannot keep. Don’t make us send Bernie over.
A lot of America has forgotten what it is like to be part of something bigger. Your success (not your popularity — they are vastly different things) depends on you reminding us of freedom and unity — two tenets we know well here. Let the framework of your administration center on such lofty aspirations, Joe. They will not let you down.
Show bravery in the face of adversity, but grace, too. Intimidate, but do not bully. Talk it out when you want to yell. But never whisper a different plan than the one we need as a nation, Joe. Whispers only lead to mixed messages and missed opportunities.
Be yourself, Joe. Be cheerful. Be optimistic. Be proud of America and its progress and the reconstruction that we need to undertake as a result of the pandemic and the politics that have shattered us. Do not look down at your feet in dark days (because there are many ahead), and do not grouse over the many hardships you and your administration are about to endure.
You’ve got a lot of work to do. You’ve sworn to do it. Don’t worry about undoing. Focus on doing.