Sunday, 10 January 2021

Biden and Harris: The first 100 days

People in the US seem to be complacent about the outlook for the first term of Harris and Biden. I'm cautiously optimistic. We see a change in the landscape of a kind rarely witnessed but just because you get an election result it doesn't mean that things will automatically get better. If these two do three things in their first term in office, I'll be both overjoyed and surprised. What I think needs to be done is:

  1. Single-payer healthcare
  2. Raise minimum wage
  3. Change gun laws

It'd be easy to find other items to add to this list, so I'll stop there. Now is not the time for celebration, it's a time for concerted and determined effort to remove the barriers to fairness in the US.

The reason I’m cautiously optimistic instead of enthusiastic is because, currently (as I write this post in my Sydney home), the main concern for progressives seems to be to chastise those who supported Trump. The sphinx pulls off his mask and the cobras take shelter from the sun. But they won’t go away forever, they’ll just be waiting for another opportunity to emerge. 

We need a new political dispensation and it won’t come from politicians – we saw Biden making a nasty comment in public after Trump said he wouldn’t go to the inauguration. The change has to come from voters. 

It’s the only way it will happen. If we rely on an old-style oppositional regime it’s less likely we’ll get a result that will endure and more likely that we’ll get more civil unrest. 

Obama’s tepid healthcare plan didn’t work so it was easy for Trump to pull it apart – less support in the community meant that there wasn’t much of an outcry when he watered down the laws. Putting in place a truly useful plan will bring down condemnation from vested interests and that’s not just the Republican Party; there are other people in the community who will motivate Republican Congressmen and -women to strongly oppose a single-payer scheme. 

Those people have to be convinced or else, as a last result, ignored. What they shouldn’t be is insulted and belittled. On 10 January I saw the following on Facebook – apologies to John Fox and his friends for posting their comments here, but they didn’t seem anything but innocuous – and thought to myself how over the past two days the debate in the Twittersphere had been rancorous and acid.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Really! The reason why I’m so vocal on these issues is because of America’s special place in the world. What happens in America gets talked about in other countries, so it can often form a kind of model for political conduct elsewhere. As long as the unfair practices referred to in the above list exist in the US, they are a threat to people everywhere.

Conflict should always be a last resort, so let’s stop pointing the finger. We don’t need to make enemies. We don’t need to shame and name. By all means impeach Donald Trump, but we also need to do what he said, in his most recent press conference, was important: bring people together. If the most divisive president in living memory can talk like this, it must be possible for Twitter users to figuratively lay down their weapons and try to come together in amity and concord, for the benefit of the world. 

For what the storming of the Capitol showed us more than anything else is that the world is watching. Americans have been chosen to lead so they must truly lead and I think that to do this they must break the cycle of recrimination. Whether people can manage to overcome their craving for revenge remains to be seen but going by Joe Biden’s response to Trump’s announcement that he (Trump) wouldn’t be at the inauguration – Biden said, “He’s an embarrassment” – the signs are not looking good that the people will put down their flaming torches. 

No comments: