Joe Biden becomes president of the United States at a time when his country is more divided than ever after the hazardous administration of Donald Trump. Without being very charismatic, or a rhetorical star like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, Biden has stated that he would like to leave the unity of Americans as a legacy.
But the drive it will not be the only challenge of the 46th president of the United States. During Trump’s term there was a withdrawal of the obligations of this country with international organizations and the attention was focused on domestic affairs. This policy became known as “America First.” In short, the interests of allies and partners, both military and commercial, were ignored, so Joe Biden will have an uphill road to reverse Trump’s slights.
How did you get to the presidency?
Donald Trump took advantage of the fact that American society had increasing their polarization to launch their political campaign. A study by the Pew Research Center argues that this division is accentuated by the bipartisanship of the political system, which makes the legitimate differences that exist in a wide range of debates seem larger than they really are. Those who can gain some electoral advantage from it turn the situation into a zero-sum game, instead of looking for common ground.
Thus, Trump began his presidential campaign in 2015 insulting veterans of the United States Army, women, the disabled and Mexican immigrants, belonging to the largest minority in that country. His criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gave him credibility among millions of people who have experienced America’s military and commercial failures firsthand. Despite the fact that Trump never gave great details of how he would do things, people believed him because they themselves filled in the gaps in how he would go about building the wall with Mexico, or repatriating jobs, with which his motto “Make America great again »Reflects discontent, nostalgia and hope at the same time.
Once in government, the strategy was to continue as if he were on the campaign trail, not changing the tone of the speech and “getting things started”, even if they didn’t materialize at all. From this came the chain of lies presented as “alternative facts” by his adviser Kellyann Conway, which set the tone for dealing with the press and whoever dared to challenge the reality imposed from the Oval Office: from the Russian plot of support to Trump in the 2016 campaign, or his political projects, of which only a tax reform was completed, and some new miles of the promised wall on the border with Mexico. Those who dared to question it were fired and / or lashed out on Twitter.
What at first seemed not to have serious consequences, given that the president always had the support of the Republican party, ended up being a gigantic error, as could be verified on January 6. The seizure of the Capitol is proof that Trump’s “alternate narrative” created an “alternate reality” for his followers.
So too Trump misrepresented the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, which resonated loudly after the murder of George Floyd by a white policeman. Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” resonated throughout the black and Latino population of the United States and various parts of the world. Instead of acknowledging the abuse, Trump called for “law and order,” accusing the Democrats of wanting to attack the suburbs and endanger the white population.
Here the dividing line between Democrats and Republicans is clear: A Pew Research Center study in January 2020 found that 8 in 10 white Democrats argue that the police and penal system are more unfair to blacks compared to 4 in 10 Republicans white.
Trump’s latest alternate fact
The most recent and damaging lie from former President Trump is that he had won the 2020 presidential election and that the “deep state” denied him victory.
With all legal avenues exhausted to reverse election results, on the eve of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ certification as president and vice president-elect, Donald Trump culminated his “alternative facts” career by inciting a crowd of supporters to storm the Capitol and stop the certification ceremony.
The balance of this incursion was five dead people, including a Capitol police officer. According to several sources, the president refused to call the National Guard to restore order and lashed out at his vice president Mike Pence for doing his job of certifying the results, even when he was being evacuated from the building.
The greatest damage of the alternative reality created and disseminated by Trump is found in the decline of the credibility of his more than 70 million followers in political institutions. According to a poll by Vox and Data for Progress, even after the assault on the Capitol, 72% of Republican voters continue to doubt the results of the presidential elections. 74% said that allegations of electoral fraud have contributed to concerns about the reliability of the elections. Worse, even among independents, 42% said they currently don’t trust election results, according to the same poll.
The second impeachment
Given the magnitude of the January 6 uprising, a second trial is being held to impeach Donald Trump in the House of Representatives. Without knowing the outcome of this second impeachment, which was approved in the House of Representatives on January 13, we can venture that the trial in the Senate it will be very different from the first.
Chuck Schumer, Senator from New York, will lead the Senate and will not have the biased attitude that Mitch McConnell had. Trump doesn’t seem to have lawyers willing to defend him. So it may be a speedy trial in which some Republicans will have greater freedom to vote against Trump, and some of them may. Without the former president, they will feel free and will look for ways to retain the 74 million voters they won in the last presidential election.
It is likely, however, that the 2/3 votes in the Senate needed to convict Trump will not be achieved. This, however, is rather irrelevant, since if he wins the indictment, the penalty would be to remove him from office, and by the time of the decision, Trump is no longer in this role. But if so, why is this path attempted?
The intention of the Democrats is to make it clear that acts like the attack on Congress do not go unpunished. In addition, the trial has the key objective of disqualifying Trump from holding any political office in the future and preventing him from standing in the 2024 elections as he has announced.
The inheritance Republicans receive
The current impeachment trial is also relevant to the future of the Republican party. Somehow they have to take responsibility for allowing Donald Trump to go so far. Republican leaders always put the number of voters Trump won for them before the principles they claim to defend. During the 2016 campaign he was not censored after the verbal attack on John McCain, seriously ill with brain cancer, or the video where he bragged about groping women without their consent.
Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, and other prominent Republicans were faithfully on the president’s side at all times until before the assault on the Capitol on January 6. That is why they must take responsibility for having embraced and supported Trump. It does not matter that they did it out of fear of the president’s tweets, or because he managed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or to have appointed three judges in the Supreme Court of Justice and more than 200 judges in federal courts; the fact of not having censored it before makes them accomplices and they have to uncheck and refound the party.
Losing the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate in the last two years is reason enough for a deep reflection of where they want to go in this decade.