Please make Senator Bernie Sanders happy Niaz Alam, Dhaka Tribune op-ed 2020
Please make Senator Bernie Sanders happy.
If I had to write a “dear Santa” letter to President-elect Biden, I would suggest those six words as a mission statement for his incoming administration. It is simple to remember, and he has nothing to lose, as the US right wing will accuse him of “satanic socialism” anyway.
After the shocking but not surprising Trump-inspired mob invasion of the US Capitol buildings on Wednesday January 6, Biden will have even more national and global goodwill on his side come Inauguration Day.
Many of the left are lukewarm about Biden because of their criticisms of President Obama even as they welcome his refreshingly calm and sane presence. In the light of the repugnant Republican obstructionism Obama had to overcome while president, this is somewhat unfair, and it is arguable his administration was relatively successful, even though his very existence as a non-white POTUS did in part create its own reaction with Trump’s win in 2016.
Remember though the 2020 turnout and vote against Trump has been far larger. The fact that Trump could not completely dismantle Obama’s Affordable Care Act even as he and Mitch McConnell sabotaged it and packed the Supreme Court, also proves his “populism” has limits.
With the world as it is, making room for optimism now is not too much to ask. Bear in mind too that the Democratic Party has come through the election process sidestepping traps and showing the strength it gains when it acts as a diverse, broad spectrum alliance.
In its primaries, it gave voice to fresh ideas like Andrew Yang’s arguments for basic income schemes while cementing Sanders’s call for Medicare for All in the national consciousness. And just this month, tenacious long-term grassroots campaigning in Georgia has delivered a much-needed Senate majority for the Biden/Harris administration.
By demonstrating diversity, showing maturity, and most importantly, increasing turnout, Biden’s campaign has proved the benefits of avoiding a “circular firing squad.” He now has the authority to provide the unifying leadership his nation needs.
I am sure POTUS 45 will continue to enthral and appal the world even after his office ends.
But while Trump has repeatedly proven the case for his removal from office on the grounds of incapacity, that need not be top priority for Biden in the next two weeks.
Whatever happens, Trump’s attractions are destined to dramatically decline once he loses the trappings of power. It is more important that the stench of defeat and desperation that he has so far mainly left for Rudy Giuliani to shoulder, be shared around all his fanboys and enablers from Pence and McConnell downwards.
Let the facts drag them down. I am guessing Biden’s calls for calm and unity will appeal to at least some of the millions of armchair and keyboard Trump voters who will not have found themselves represented by the fascist flash mob that rioted itself into the Senate chamber.
In Trump’s mind, as he gave them seditious encouragement, he may have imagined a sea of heavily armed “Blackshirts marching on Washington,” but the TV cameras make clear that It was only scandalous neglect of security that allowed such a rabble to get past the doors.
No doubt it is important for the FBI and Secret Service to up their game for some time ahead in view of the ultra-right militias and would-be Oklahoma-style bombers that Trump’s rhetoric has repeatedly nurtured. But I do not think US democracy, however undermined it often is by vested interests and however violently it is challenged, is in any real danger.
At least in terms of the electoral process, Biden can show democracy and the rule of law prevailed.
The will of the people does not need altruistic political parties or caretaker governments to guarantee a fair election. All it needs is for the people who count the votes and the people who report and certify them to act honestly. It is that simple really. Trump’s repeated interference, incitement, and multiple lawsuits amounted to naught.
Everything is in place for Biden to begin the healing process.
By prioritizing the pandemic for his first 100 days and committing the US to re-join the Paris climate agreement, Biden’s presidency heralds the hope of a more multilateral approach to global problems.
With health care in crisis, we may over this decade see the US electorate turn against the extortionate grip insurance and drug companies hold over its medical system. The hitherto lonely common sense and democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders may yet get its day (and at the very least he is now in line to chair the Senate budget committee.)
None of this is simple of course, and if the new president is to go far, he will need to build a bigger Congressional majority in the years ahead. An FDR-style progressive presidency seems to be what the US public seeks. Practical solutions to the pressing global problems of inequality and climate change are certainly what the world needs.
It would be good to hear Biden and Harris say that they will be bold. If not now, when?
Make Bernie happy.