By Martin Love

Is Biden up to the challenge of wise governance? That’s now the question…

January 9, 2021 - 18:27

Donald Trump has probably done more damage to the U.S. than any president ever has, and inciting the violent raid on the Capitol in Washington in which five people died and much physical damage was done is his last destructive act and the end of his political career.

He also, along with many of those who wreaked havoc on January 6 around and inside the Capitol as the final Electoral Vote certification was underway, could quite possibly be prosecuted himself. The fear of a military attack on Iran, a fear which has been in play ever since Trump lost the election to Joe Biden on November 3, seems to be waning the closer Biden gets to his inauguration on January 20. So, this latter – that Iran may be “safe” for now - is one positive outcome of Trump’s overreach and his petulant refusal to go quietly.

Trump virtually handed the two run-off elections in Georgia for the U.S. Senate to his Democratic foes, Warnock and Ossof, which means the Senate is now evenly split between the two political parties but also in the Democrats’ control given the extra vote on legislation in the hands of Biden’s Vice-Presidential pick Kamala Harris.

And as well, some of the most prominent Republican Trump supporters in the Senate have virtually destroyed their longer-term political prospects and dreams going forward, especially Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas. Both these men, and other Republicans, helped egg on the violence at the Capitol. What were they thinking? One must ask rhetorically. As for members of the mob on January 6, the new Department of Justice is likely to put many of them in jail for insurrection. And to boot, General James Mattis, who for a time was a part of the Trump Administration, has called for Trump to lose his citizenship and be exiled to another country for his alleged traitorous perfidy. And Trump has announced he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, breaking with tradition. Yes, it’s true: Trump managed to create a cult following of voters with his lies and bombast over four years, and now he has gone too far and they, too, will be in disrepute going forward assuming the country is literally not split apart in coming months.

Few Americans can legitimately pity Trump’s fall from any grace. He has been the worst President in U.S. history. He had no legislative victories but his huge tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. He rescinded scores of environmental safeguards. He turned the Department of Justice into joke. His cabinet appointees like Mike Pompeo were a joke, and he turned the U.S. into what amounted to a burgeoning fascist state like Israel. And this not to mention how he sullied most all of any respect the U.S. had on the international scene with his sanctions against what sometimes seemed like the entire world, but especially Iran. He rescinded working deals like the JCPOA and so on. He threw millions of Americans out of reliable healthcare access, too. In sum, Trump has always been an ignorant rube whose prime focus has consistently been himself, not Americans. Far from MAGA, he has accelerated U.S. decline. But now the question must be with Biden, decline to what?

Well, for one thing, the long-established so-called “Deep State” which was horrified when Trump became President, is now going to be firmly back in the saddle of governance under Joe Biden. But Biden as Barack Obama’s loyal Vice President was hardly a person to cheer about. He was instrumental in supporting the war on Iraq earlier and then Obama’s wars on Libya and Syria. He supported the coup in Ukraine and later his family, or his son, profited from Ukraine’s corruption.

But now, still, with Biden as President and Trump out of the way, at last, there is a chance at least that the listing monster ship that is the U.S. may right itself at least very marginally – but the government will be much larger along with financial debt and deficits and further erosion of the country, but at a more subdued pace. Bad actors who supported Trump will be deeply diminished and even supporters like his lawyer and former NYC mayor (during 9/11) Rudy Giuliani could be prosecuted. In a line, Biden is likely to take America back to some facsimile of the governance it had during the Bush and Obama periods, which were nothing to applaud except in comparison to Trump’s four years in the White House.

Would this be progress? Not really, unless Biden eschews wars of choice, resurrects the JCPOA, cuts the Pentagon budget and eliminates overseas military bases, begins to consider honestly the extension Medicare to all Americans, re-creates environmental safeguards, and attacks the racism and racists so visible in Trump’s tenure. In other words, Biden must fully become who he has mostly pretended to be in the past – a wise steward and leader of fresh policies that benefit ALL citizens and not just the wealthy.

Indeed, one can say that if Biden does not take bold, progressive steps to lead the U.S. out of its self-inflicted morass and division and repair the image the U.S. has abroad, he, too, will as Trump already has, accelerate the decline of the U.S. even more. But at least for now, there is a chance for improvements with Trump who finally this week admitted that a new Administration is directly ahead.

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