US President: Rebuilding the Western World | Opinion


The overnight journey that the United States and the Western world endured while Donald Trump was the great helmsman is over. Four years of democratic degeneration, systematic lies, feeding on the worst human instincts and incompetent administration are now over. The legacy they leave behind is division, mistrust, resentment. The arrival of Joe Biden to the White House as the 46th President of the United States heralds a new era, and there is cause for celebration.

However, there is no guarantee that this period will be long and sunny. There is a Herculean task on the shoulders of this 78-year-old man with moderate, pragmatic instincts who is not particularly charismatic, and the presidential term that awaits him promises to be the most complex since World War II. Yet the United States and the Western world as a whole need him to be successful in order to neutralize the threat of decline that hangs over them.

Biden faces three types of extraordinary challenges. The first and most immediate is the scourge of the pandemic, both in terms of public health (the deaths recorded have reached 400,000) and the economy (there are around nine million people less in employment than in February). The second underlying challenge is the poor state of American democracy, exemplified by a deeply divided society and the weaknesses exposed by Trumpism (including how the backbone of the Republican Party has dissolved like a lump of sugar. in the water under the dictates of the populist tycoon, or the terrible role played by social media and some news outlets). The third external challenge is the unstoppable rise of China and the subsequent erosion of the importance of America and the West as a whole.

The United States and the Western World as a Whole Need Biden to Succeed in Order to Neutralize the Threat of Decline Hanging Over them

The task is titanic and success is, if not improbable, at least strewn with pitfalls. But there are some early elements that point in an encouraging direction: the first remarks and actions of the new leader show a clear understanding of the issues and a realization that these cannot be treated lukewarm; the management team seems particularly strong; and the fact that Democrats control both houses, albeit by a narrow margin, will make it easier to pass the legislation.

Three words emerged from Biden’s inaugural speech: unity, truth, democracy. Their meaning: to stitch up the wounds of American society, to eradicate the virus of the manipulation of facts which prevents the search for consensus, and finally, to restore vigor to an attacked democracy, as physically illustrated by the exceptionally strict security during the inauguration. . ceremony. Biden’s speech and his first acts show a daring desire to find extraordinary solutions in extraordinary times.

Moderation is an attitude of the mind which is not synonymous with cowardice; pragmatism is not synonymous with hesitation or weakness; a lack of charisma does not mean an inability to build. During his early hours in office, Biden launched a full-scale offensive to defeat the more brutal aspects of Trump’s presidency through executive orders; he is pushing forward an ambitious new plan to support the economy amounting to $ 1.9 billion (1.56 billion euros), in addition to previous stimulus plans, in a dazzling demonstration of action public; it is preparing for a vigorous ecological transition and the unhesitating return of the United States to the international order of which it was one of the main creators, and perhaps also its main beneficiary. Everything is going in the right direction.

The team that will support him is promising and includes very capable figures (Janet Yellen at the Treasury, John Kerry on climate affairs, Antony Blinken as Secretary of State and Vice President Kamala Harris herself) as well as ‘a great diversity. . While there is a lack of new faces, there is a lot of collective experience. The last-minute victory in the Senate opens up a narrow space for passage of legislation, although it will require maintaining unity within a Democratic Party that has more than one soul.

Moderation is an attitude of the mind that is not synonymous with cowardice

On the foreign front, the Biden administration will have to contend with the rapid rise of China, which year after year is reducing Washington’s economic, military and technological advantage. This rivalry risks turning into a new cold war. In this context, Biden will have to strike a balance between keeping up the pressure and starting a conflict; America will also have the responsibility, as first among its peers, to promote a realignment of the group of liberal democracies, which unraveled during the Trump years. These democracies have common values, but not always common interests. They must all calculate the costs of being guided by the latter instead of the former. On this side of the Atlantic, the change in Washington coincides with the upcoming departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been the main European leader of the 21st century.

The important thing is to remember that Trump is not just a tumor of democracy that has now been excised. He is a symptom. The citizen discontent that fueled its rise, the digital and information media that made it possible, the submissive attitude of part of the political class … everything is still there. Democracies are fragile, as Biden reminded us. And that’s not just true for the United States. Trump’s departure doesn’t mean the monstrous Medusa has been beheaded. She still has the ability to turn to stone anyone who looks her in the eye. “We’ll be back in one form or another,” Trump warned as he left the White House. The tycoon was just the most visible of the snakes that Medusa has in place of hair. The West must rebuild itself towards a more effective politics and a more inclusive form of capitalism. Biden’s new day is the occasion.

english version by Susana Urra.


Kevin E. Boling