Joe Biden is 78 years old today. He will be the oldest president ever when he takes office in January. But is 78 actually that old? Will Leitch has some thoughts on how it’s not as old as it used to be — and offers an array of vital septuagenarians to prove his point: “Harrison Ford is 78. Judge Judy is 78. Joy Behar is 78. Barbra Streisand is 78!… 78-year-olds are doing amazing things all the time.”

Medium in Conversation

Ian Bremmer and our own Garance Franke-Ruta go deep on the election, populism, and America in the world after Trump

Black and white image of Joe Biden giving a speech against a blue and silver background.
Black and white image of Joe Biden giving a speech against a blue and silver background.
Photo illustration; Image source: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This article is adapted from the first installment of a new live-event series called Medium in Conversation. Ian Bremmer is a New York Times bestselling author and the president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk-analysis firm. Garance Franke-Ruta is the executive editor of GEN. Bremmer and Franke-Ruta spoke in front of a Zoom audience on November 11, just a few days after Joe Biden was elected president.

GFR: Your firm, the Eurasia Group, is a political risk analysis firm. What is political risk analysis?

Ian Bremmer: It just basically means we want to understand how politics and the markets come together and provide that information to our clients. They come in all different shapes and sizes, but they’re all interested in how politics create outcomes that you otherwise wouldn’t expect. There’s no lobbying, there’s really no partisanship. You get found out very quickly if your analysis is politicized because you’ll be wrong. As a political scientist, who deeply cares about what’s happening in the world, but kind of doesn’t like partisanship and politics — I’ve never been a part of a political party — this is a fascinating time to be in this field. The world order is in such flux. …

Whoever wins the election, the path ahead won’t be easy

I went for a walk midday today and found embedded in a tree an old sign indicating that the area, more than 100 miles from New York City, was “City of New York Water Supply Property.” It reminded me that every city is a miracle of infrastructure, and every civilization the product of millions of unheralded moments of building—some of which last, and some of which are lost or abandoned.

The 2020 election results will come soon enough. But I know for many of us, as we have grappled with anxiety over its outcome and fear for our futures, the real question that lies before us is one of courage. Will we have the courage to find a path for ourselves in whatever comes next? And not just for ourselves but for those we love—our families and communities and cultures and co-religionists. …

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Donald Trump waves as he walks off stage at the end of a rally in Carson City, Nevada. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Or the end of America as we knew it

If you had asked any disappointed Hillary Clinton voter on January 20, 2017, what they thought the country would look like on the eve of the 2020 election, I think they may have been surprised by the specifics, but not the scale, of the destruction of the country under President Donald Trump.

More than eight million confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 220,000 dead—including 1 in 920 Black Americans. Our cities and schools half-shuttered. The goods trade deficit and federal budget deficit at record levels. Women dropping out of the workforce in droves. Students struggling to complete classes remotely, often without the strong home internet services this requires. Unemployment that spiked to the highest levels since the Great Depression. A mass wave of evictions on the horizon. Growing food insecurity. Elevated hate crimes. …

President Trump has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. So has first lady Melania Trump. It’s not the first time people who work inside the White House have caught the virus, and since spring observers such as GEN’s Andrea González-Ramírez have been predicting a White House outbreak thanks to the lax prevention measures common there and Trump’s determination to continue holding large, maskless and indoor campaign rallies. Her report from May:

And what we’ve learned so far:

Welcome back to Flux, a weekly newsletter from GEN about the powerful forces reshaping America.

What’s in flux?

A strongman versus sanity. But what can a debate actually achieve in the chaos year of 2020?

By releasing his taxes yesterday, Joe Biden signaled that he wanted last night’s debate to be about economic fairness. He’s paid more taxes than Donald Trump — I mean, didn’t we all? — despite earning significantly less money. Can the candidate from Scranton out-populist the man from Mar-a-Lago? …

Speakers at the Republican National Convention addressed the future of New York City, the national debate over policing and racial justice, and the uproar over the shooting of James Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin—and rolled them all up into an argument for reelecting Donald Trump.

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President Donald Trump after delivering his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images.

Welcome back to Flux, a weekly newsletter from GEN about the powerful forces reshaping America. I’m Garance Franke-Ruta, executive editor of GEN.

The essence of propaganda is that it includes just enough truth to make a big lie believable.

This week the conversation about the future of New York City, the national debate over policing and racial justice, and the uproar over the shooting of James Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were all rolled up into an argument for reelecting Donald Trump by speakers at the Republican National Convention.

Never mind that the unparalleled collapse of the economy and upending of every kind of normal order in New York is 100% thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, which Trump-era federal disease prevention officials still have failed to contain, blocking a return to regular living. Never mind that the confrontations in the streets between left-wing activists and federal officials are fueled substantially by the overreaction of militarized police and even border forces that have now been turned against rights-bearing U.S. citizens, or that the some—though by no means all — of the worst acts of violence on the most inflamed nights of protests have come in the form of right-wing extremist attacks like the one perpetrated in Kenosha by teen Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse. …

Welcome to the latest edition of Flux, a weekly newsletter from GEN about the powerful forces reshaping America.

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Joe Biden delivers his acceptance speech on the fourth night of the Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center on August 20, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Biden was hoisted aloft by the testimonials of a demographically, ideologically, and geographically diverse lineup of speakers this week at a virtual four-day Democratic National Convention that preached unity in the face of America’s overlapping crises and warned darkly about the dangers of a second Donald Trump term.

But it was the real people who were featured on the screens who ultimately stole the show, Andrea González-Ramírez writes in GEN: “To see that Biden showed a young boy that a stutter wouldn’t hold him back from his dreams made for one of the most touching moments of the convention. …

The Democratic presidential nominee promised light in dark times and a way out of our present crises

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Joe Biden delivers his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images


That simple word underlined one of the defining images of the 2008 presidential campaign, and will be forever associated in the political arena with the first White House bid of a charismatic young African American U.S. senator whose election many saw as a significant step in healing America’s racial divides.

Then last night in Delaware, the much-older white man Barack Obama chose as his running mate and who served as his vice president for eight years revived the dream, promising to once again lead America out of crisis. “Hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark,” Joe Biden said in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president. …


Garance Franke-Ruta

Executive Editor, GEN by Medium. Previously: Yahoo News, The Atlantic, The Washington Post. garance-at-medium-dot-com.

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