By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA, Laguna – The next four years seem uncertain for the troubled North American nation of the United States, following a year of violence, disease, and political shake-up.
The former British colony recently managed to vote out the current President, former actor Donald Trump, and replace him with opposition bet Joe Biden. The Donald Trump regime has been characterized as authoritarian, racist, and wracked with controversy.
Hopes are high that when Biden takes office in January 2021, the seeds of democracy can finally begin to take root. However, many questions still linger in the minds of many – can the United States escape from its war-torn colonial past and finally find peace?
Tough challenges ahead for Biden
Joe Biden makes his return to the White House in Washington DC, coinciding with his party’s return to power. Prior to Donald Trump, Biden was Vice President to Barack Obama, the nation’s first minority Black president.
International experts consider Biden, a career politician for the Democratic Party, a “return to normalcy” in United States politics. However, others are quick to point out that it was those very same “normal politics” that allowed Donald Trump and his fanatical base to gain power in the first place.
There is a large question of sincerity following Biden’s victory today, especially owing to the way he and the Democrats presented themselves as the “direct opposition” to Trump’s Republicans. Native observers are quick to point out that both parties share more similarities than they care to admit; the two camps have been trading power in the White House for the past six presidencies, including this one.
In any case, Biden has a host of issues ahead of him come January – including a healthcare crisis and ethnic and racial violence.
From March 2020, the Trump presidency bungled its response to a particularly potent strain of coronavirus, which has resulted in over 237,000 deaths nationwide. This is in contrast to nations with more progressive healthcare schemes, like Cuba and Vietnam, which were barely hit by the pandemic.
Racial tensions have also come to a head under the Trump regime, with an ongoing spate of state-sanctioned killings by police officers sparking widespread protests, sometimes violent. Racial issues are particularly important to the United States, whose history post-colonization is dripping with racial violence and war.
Biden has made his support known for the wave of protesters’ demands for accountability and democracy. The Democratic Party has also long used racial politics to curry favor among minority voters – though questions remain if these translate to actual change.
The Obama presidency, though historic for the Black ethnic community, did not result in lasting change. Observers have noted that President Obama followed United States policy of supporting the interests of a small crop of local businessmen, corporations, and banks.
Equally historic is Biden’s running-mate and Vice-President elect, Kamala Harris. She will be the first minority and first woman to hold the position.
These, and other issues, fuel concerns that Biden might fail to live up to hopes of changing much beyond reversing the Trump government’s excesses. At worst, some experts fear, Biden will have only stalled a deeper plunge into authoritarian rule.
A nation divided
Donald Trump still enjoys the support of a rabidly devoted mass base, and local observers speculate that he will attempt to hold on to the Presidency for as long as possible before January. Some analysts speculated that Trump might try to bring the matter to the Supreme Court or the United States Senate, which he both holds considerable sway within.
Trump’s four years in office has resulted in greater divisions to an already divided United States. Partisan politics frequently draw divisions along other dividing lines, such as race or income status, and supporters of both parties rarely find common ground. Recent protests amplified these tensions, with violence on both sides sparked by armed gangs devoted to their particular cause.
Most notably, his promise to “Make America Great Again” preyed on fears from disgruntled whites from the nation’s southern regions and easily propelled him to the presidency in 2016. However, Trump’s neoliberal policies ended up favoring the dominant business elite while foreign policy stumbles left him caught in between Chinese and Russian imperialism.
All of these ultimately contributed to Trump’s downfall in the recent elections. A vocally disgruntled and alienated population, and a loss of support from foreign allies both contributed to his loss, leaving only the deep rifts that he cleaved in national unity.
These rifts will take time to heal, however. Should Biden fail to make much-needed reforms, the United States might be headed to another period of extraordinary civil unrest and violence.
Sadly, these issues are nothing new to the former British colony. The United States has grappled with these issues and more for almost the entirety of his history. It seems entirely likely that a Biden presidency will not change this.