Europe has a lot to learn from Joe Biden’s audacity

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Politics throws up two sorts of leader. There are those forever reaching for an umbrella and others, far fewer in number, who set out to change the weather. Western democracies have lately boasted a superabundance of politicians sheltering from the storm.

Youth and energy are supposed to be synonymous. But it seems the task of rediscovering the power of agency has fallen to the 78-year-old who has moved into the White House. Still short of his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden has already shown that government can change things.

The west’s story has become one of democracies at the mercy of what British prime minister Harold Macmillan called “events”. The global financial crash, the rise of China, Russia’s military adventurism, populist insurgencies and most recently Covid-19 — all have elicited defensive responses. Ambition has been replaced by damage…

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