• Biden’s Choice

    Joe Biden seems to be everything that Donald Trump was not – decent, straightforward, considerate of others, mindful of his responsibilities – but none of that means that he has an easy path ahead of him. The pandemic still rages, American standing in the world is grievously low, and the economy is flat on its back, to mention only the most immediate problems – and that is to say nothing of the fractured country bequeathed to him by his predecessor.

    Trump did not create, but he certainly gave succour to, and drew support from, a section of American society that is usually hidden from view and that we have seen, in the past, only in glimpses. We saw them, in horrifying close-up, in the shameful assault on the seat of democracy a couple of weeks ago. We saw the far-right militia groups, the neo-fascists, the white supremacists, the conspiracy theorists in all their ugliness and preparedness to use violence; and the bad news for the new President and for America is that, whatever the outcome of the election, they are still there.

    Joe Biden rightly calls for unity and for people to come together; his problem, though, is that it is hard to see what accommodation a functioning democracy can reach with these outliers. These people have been a part of American society for decades and more; they are the price America is now paying, and evidently must continue to pay, for slavery – an institution on which so much of America’s early development and present-day achievement has been based.

    These are the people who continue to see their lifestyles and prosperity depending on their ability to disregard and disrespect – and to claim superiority as a birthright over – the descendants of those innocents who were long ago seized and uprooted from their homelands and transported to a “new life” of slavery in a foreign land. The ending of slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War has not meant, for those who yearn for the old ways, an acceptance of a future of unity and equality but, rather, a dogged re-assertion of their own superiority and of the practice of repression.

    What is the new administration to do? To press on with reform and with creating a free and equal society is to risk driving the outliers further into their lagers and ghettoes, convincing them that their only way out is either violence or electing another Trump.

    But Biden has no option. He cannot allow his presidency to be derailed by compromising with his opponents and critics in a futile attempt to bring them back into the democratic fold. His choice is a stark one – he must choose either to build a new America, in which a new set of democratic values is accepted as the norm, or to subside into an old one. He must not allow himself to be held to ransom by those who would deny the very principles on which his election victory was based. It is the non-democrats who must move. Americans need to decide who they are.

    Bryan Gould
    22 January 2021

1 Comment

  1. mikesh says: February 19, 2021 at 10:36 pmReply

    “Joe Biden rightly calls for unity and for people to come together;”

    One people, under one government – Wall Street