The Ford School hosted a YouTube livestream Thursday evening to discuss the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and what the policy priorities will be of the incoming Biden administration. 

The event began with Public Policy professor Luke Shaefer posing a question to panelist and Public Policy professor Shobita Parthasarathy about what she believes should be the top priority of the Biden administration in addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Parthasarathy said the Biden administration must prioritize expanded testing, increase contact tracing efforts and isolation plans.  

“These kinds of things I think need to be more of a significant part of the response,” Parthasarathy said. “I’m glad that they are taking some steps. I would like to see even more attention to questions around, how do we make sure that people properly isolate themselves? And how do we make sure they have the economic and social support to do that?”

The conversation then shifted to how the pandemic has and will continue to affect the economy. Economics professor Justin Wolfers, another panelist, emphasized the differences between a suppression, recession and depression.

“The question is, when we get to the end of that suppression, what state’s the economy in?” Wolfers said. “The hard work begins now. So, the dramatic recovery we’ve seen, it’s over. And now it’s going to be a long slow grind and the question is how long and how slow? And what role does policy have to play in that?” 

Another panelist, Public Policy professor John Ciorciari, focused on how the Biden administration can address concerns related to foreign policy.

“Much of the message he needs to provide internationally in order to restore U.S. image and credibility is a message about normalcy, continuity, a return to a more conventional foreign policy approach,” Ciorciari said. “And for that reason alone, he probably will want to appoint a number of senior people who were from the Obama administration. The benefit of that in this virtual era is that they don’t need to start new relationships, they need to reconnect.” 

The conversation then moved to discussing what other policy proposals could be successful in the current polarized political climate. Wolfers emphasized the need for another stimulus package, whereas Parthasarathy expressed her hopefulness in more Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and criminal justice reform bills. 

Next, Ciorciari discussed the role of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the role she will serve in representing younger generations. 

“She needs to be the one who connects with younger, more progressive voters, whose concerns are somewhat distinguishable from those of older democratic voters. And the administration will also need to appoint a few people who can communicate,” Ciorciari said. “They’re clearly getting a lot of requests from young progressives who supported them saying, ‘We turned out, helping you win this election. We want representation. We want a voice in the cabinet. We want a voice in the White House.’” 

The conversation concluded with how to interpret the 2020 election. In the wake of the election, Parthasarathy reflected on how we need a more representative government. 

“We can talk about misinformation, conspiracy theories, and how they were wrong,” Parthasarathy said. “…What kind of perspectives and knowledge is not a part of the system that needs to be? Are we relying too much on too narrow of an establishment in terms of expertise? What kind of new mechanisms can we include to ensure communities are more part of decision making?”  

Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at 

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.

For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.