Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn-in today in Wshington, mercifully bringing the Trump era to an end. This should make me happy; President Biden has laid out a realistic and robust agenda to protect both the economy and the health of our nation. He has a plan to provide aid to citizens, small businesses, and to get the coronavirus vaccine to all Americans. Inauguration Day should have left me feeling excited and relieved my sense of dread. But the sense of dread remains.
In the final three years of the Trump administration, the White House spread lies and paranoia about a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine the former president and to subvert that white Christian American values: The freedom to oppress the poor, to deny goods, services, and healthcare to the people of whom they do not approve, and to deny non-white and non-Christian people the ability immigrate to this country.
The combination of the Trump administration validating the bigoted fears of white Christian America, and those same white Christians getting lost in a vacuum of white nationalist propaganda, has left them even more paranoid, violent, and motivated to take action, as we saw on January 6.
To make matters worse, the Trump administration and the COVID-19 task force were nowhere to be found as the pandemic grew worse. They were too busy focusing on maintaining presidential power. Thus, the virus to continued to spread uncontrollably killing now over 400,000 Americans. The situation is made worse because the Trump administration’s continued lies about the pandemic only fueled the kind of selfish behavior that has led to more and more “super-spreader events.” And this was all in the name of protecting the wealth of the one percent and the dubious freedom from inconvenience.
And it doesn’t stop there. The Trump administration’s foreign policy has seemed calculated to enrage our rivals and alienate our friends. The last year began, you might remember, with an unnecessary attack on Iran that almost led to war. The Trump administration took an unnecessarily hard-line position on Taiwanese sovereignty, setting up the possibility of a military conflict with China. It also labeled Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism with little evidence. All of these policies – and others – seem calculated to provoke conflict, and have certainly further isolated us from our allies, many of whom remain committed to the Iran Nuclear Framework, and have healthy relationships with Cuba and China.
In the final year of his administration, President Trump successfully hobbled our economy, encouraged the violent militancy of right-wing extremists, further isolated us from our allies in pointless spats, destroyed Americans’ health, exploited and aggravated racial and political divisions, and set us up for military conflicts that we cannot win. You have to wonder if the far-right is playing four-dimensional chess in its attempt to destroy our democracy, and if they might be a few moves from checkmate.
Whatever the Biden administration’s grand plans, it is unlikely that we will see a great improvement in most Americans’ lives over the next four years. The damage done by the Trump administration is just so great that it it almost inconceivable that it can be repaired in four years. It is going to take many generations and much soul searching to fix. Americans will have to realize that we are a racist, bigoted, hate-filled, ignorant nation before we find cures to any of these cancers, and neither that nor economic recovery happen overnight.
Progressives and what is left of the voting bloc of “real-conservatives” are going to have to come together, find common ground, and rebuild the foundation of this country. That means that are going to have make compromises. They won’t need to come from one side – conservatives have much to account for – and it does not mean we that have to sacrifice our principles. But we do need to recognize Magaism as our common enemy, and the health, safety, and prosperity of all Americans as our common responsibility. Only then can we give the next administration – the one after Biden’s – a chance to succeed.
There is no way that a Biden administration can fix this mess, no matter what, but if I can find a way to keep America limping along and start to restore the optimism of the American dream, then maybe we can survive.