EDITORIAL: During difficult time, let's hope Joe Biden is optimist we desperately need

  • Joe Biden is set to become the next president of the United States, succeeding Donald Trump.
  • Among Biden's top priorities will be the COVID-19 pandemic and healing our partisan divide.
  • Biden will also need to tackle the economy, climate change and health care.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

That quote was favored by Winston Churchill, a man who knew a little bit about true difficulties. After all, he led a nation that bravely stood alone against Nazi Germany for 18 months.

We can only hope that the next president of the United States will display an attitude that Churchill would admire.

Because there’s no doubt that Joe Biden, when he takes his oath of office on Inauguration Day, will face a whole slew of difficulties — most of them directly caused or exacerbated by his deceitful, negligent and shameless predecessor.

For Biden’s sake, and the sake of our nation, we can only hope that we hit absolute rock bottom with the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

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There’s no guarantee of that, of course. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that when things appear to hit a new low, they can get even worse.

Still, with Biden’s inauguration, there’s at least a glimmer of hope that things may finally improve.

COVID-19: Biden’s No. 1 job, of course, is trying to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now claimed approximately 400,000 U.S. lives.

Biden is saying all the right things. He’s encouraging everyone to follow all the proper protocols, including the wearing of masks, and promising to follow the science. That immediately offers a stark contrast to our 45th president, who took great strides to avoid wearing a mask and often mocked his own scientific experts, despite the fact that he was a COVID-19 victim.

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Even more importantly, Biden is promising 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office. Given the painfully slow vaccine rollout thus far, that seems rather ambitious. If he can reach that target, that accomplishment alone would make his first 100 days a success.

A nation divided: If tackling the pandemic is Biden’s No. 1 job, trying to heal our fractured nation should be No. 1B.

Given our current divided state, achieving that goal will be much more difficult than getting the pandemic under control. At least with the pandemic, the vaccines provide reason for optimism.

The country’s partisan political climate shows no signs of easing. Biden has, and will continue, to plead for unity, but words alone will never solve the problem.

Despite his exit from office, Donald Trump will likely play a critical role in determining if the political divide widens or narrows. The best thing Trump could do is disappear from public life. That almost certainly will not happen. He simply craves the spotlight — and the adulation of his ardent but misguided supporters — far too much.

In fact, without the restraints of the presidential office, Trump is likely to become even more divisive, not less.

More plow horse than show horse: Biden’s best chance to succeed is by putting his head down and doing the work — something that Trump ardently avoided.

Biden needs to be more plow horse than show horse while tackling a whole array of serious issues. We’ve talked about the pandemic and the partisan divide, but the economy, climate change and health care are not far behind on Biden’s list of difficult jobs.

Still, as Churchill liked to say, there is opportunity in difficulty, if you’re optimistic.

Let’s all hope that Mr. Biden is just the optimist that this nation needs.