Biden will want to try governing as if he’s leading a national unity coalition, picking early centrist priorities (like combating COVID-19 more aggressively and competently than Trump and passing economic stimulus in the form of a large infrastructure bill) that some Republicans in Congress might be willing to support, in the hope that on the basis of increasing comity in Washington, bigger progressive priorities will be achievable down the road.

But two ideologically opposed factions in our politics will seek to scuttle this approach to governance. First, the left (led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of “The Squad” in the House) will demand that its ambitious agenda (including the Green New Deal and single-payer health care) take center stage and strongly oppose the effort to sideline it in favor of proposals Republicans might support. At the same time, and from the opposite ideological direction, House Republicans will work with Republicans in the Senate who have presidential ambitions (including Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio), and those fearing primary challenges from the right in 2022, to keep members of the party unified in opposition to the new president’s outreach efforts.