President Biden must stay true to his word and unify the American people or face 'catastrophe'

TODAY will see a Presidential inauguration like no other.  

To avoid any repeat of the pro-Trump violence earlier this month, twenty-five thousand national guards have been drafted into Washington DC. 

In a typical act of graceless-ness, the outgoing President will boycott his successor’s swearing-in. 

Opinion polls show that a majority of Trump voters still do not accept the result of November’s election.

People often talk about the ‘divided’ nature of American politics, but the truth is this has never been worse. 

The country is now divided into two camps armed not just with different sets of opinions but with different sets of facts. 

And they are also actually armed, of course.

So Joe Biden better mean what he says when he talks about unifying the nation.  Talk like that is easy.  It is actually doing it that is the hard part.

One thing Biden could do from the start is to respond to Trump more gracefully than Trump has responded to him.  Nobody is going to improve Trump’s manners. 

But Biden could do with demonstrating a bit of grace himself.  So far he hasn’t done that, recently taunting Trump as ‘the most incompetent President in the history of the United States of America.’

He has followed up such taunts by announcing an immediate gear-change from the policies of the Trump administration.  

Since Joe Biden and his party now have control not just of the White House but also of Congress and the Senate they can of course do almost anything they want.

But they should be careful.  Not everything Trump achieved in office was bad.  

In fact many of the policies he pursued are worth holding onto.  And the Democrats should make sure they don’t ditch policies just because Trump favoured them.

Biden and his team have already announced that from day one they will take the US back into the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. 

Since Joe Biden and his party now have control not just of the White House but also of Congress and the Senate they can of course do almost anything they want.

They have also announced a repeal of the various immigrations bans he put in place. 

More controversially they look set to take the US back into the Iran nuclear agreement, a deal which allows Iran to continue re-arming while pretending that it has stopped its nuclear program. 

If the Biden administration goes back into that it will show it is not just vengeful but naïve.

Still the most important question will be to see what Biden does about China. 

One of the best things about the Trump administration was that for the first time a Western government recognised what the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] are up to. 

It isn’t just that Trump’s team called out the concentration camp and forced labour systems that the CCP uses inside China.  It wasn’t just that they called out the brutal suppression in Hong Kong, or the bullying of Australia. 

It was that Trump and his team recognised that China is not a fair competitor.  Trade with China is not ‘free trade’. 

It is trade with a country that – with forced labour among other devices – has undercut western markets and stripped millions of jobs from our economies.

Many of the people who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 did so because they were hurting from this.  

They were hurting from the increased power of China as a global competitor to America. 

And this year, when everybody’s economy except for China’s has slumped (due to the coronavirus) it is more important than ever that the US responds to Beijing with toughness. 

In part that should be to hold the Chinese Communists accountable for the virus.  But it should also be because pro-China policies of the type Biden has always backed hurt American workers.

In order to unite America Biden must speak for all Americans.

Very few US politicians ever seemed to care about that hurt.  Some on the radical left of Biden’s party even rubbed salt into the wounds. 

They claimed that Trump supporters were all white (not true) or white-supremacists (even less true). 

And then they talked about ‘white privilege’, as though an unemployed family on the poverty line in ‘flyover’ America has any damn privilege at all.

Biden has already joined in with this divisive talk. 

Last week, announcing help for small businesses recovering from the Corona crisis he said his administration would give ‘priority’ to ‘black, Latino, Asian and Native American owned small businesses as well as ‘women-owned’ businesses. 

This type of divisive talk is what gave Trump part of his opening five years ago.  That his successor should be talking like this is a terrible sign.

In order to unite America Biden must speak for all Americans.  

He must seek to understand all Americans. And he should seek to treat people as they are – first and foremost as equal citizens, not as members of various identity groups.

At its best the US has been one of the greatest beacons of world democracy.  Its light has flickered lately.  

But it is in Joe Biden’s gift to rekindle it or snuff it out.  America – and all its friends – must hope he makes the right choice.  And wish him well.

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