Is Joe Biden capable of saving America — and the world?
That is, without a doubt, the challenge he has set for himself.
The US President described this era as a war between democracy and autocracy in his “100 days” address to Congress. He made it clear that this moment will be decided by either America or China: one will win and the other will lose.
“There is no leave in America,” says Biden, ever the sunny champion of the American myth. He claims that America is “on the move again.”
He also sent a strong message to Beijing, saying, “We are not looking for trouble,” but that America will not back down.
He reassured allies while also reminding China that the United States is not going anywhere. He claims that, like NATO in Europe, America will retain a large military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Biden says “America is back” after the Trump years and a withdrawal from global leadership, but allies have told him “yeah, but for how long?”
It’s an excellent question. America is a powerhouse, albeit one that has been battered. It has been through extremism, relentless fighting, financial crisis, and now COVID-19 destruction in the last two decades.
It is a troubled nation at war with itself. Systemic racism and crippling injustice abound in this nation. “America’s house was on fire,” he said when he took office. The Capitol building had been stormed and ransacked by pro-Trump insurgents.
In this crisis, Biden sees opportunity
Biden is well aware of the historic challenge he faces: the country’s — and the democratic world’s — futures are on the line.
Is our democracy capable of delivering on its promises, he wondered? Will it be able to resolve the lies and rage that are tearing it apart? It’s easier to ask questions than it is to answer them.
Biden sees an advantage in this crisis. He’s proposed a large-scale, high-spending government rescue package for the United States.
He has now invested $2 trillion putting money in the hands of ordinary Americans.
He needs to persuade Congress to provide an additional $4 trillion to finish the job of stimulating the economy, repairing infrastructure, and restoring trust in the many millions of Americans who have been left behind and are unable to achieve the great American Dream.
He wants to tax the wealthy in order to give to the needy, while still preserving the country’s aspirational middle class.
It’s a smart move: cater to the middle class while challenging Republicans — who now pretend to be the voice of the working class — to oppose a proposal to help the poor.
He wants to “make friends” with his rivals and find a common ground with them.
The honeymoon is over
In his speech he deliberately avoided picking a fight with Republicans, who still refuse to repudiate Donald Trump, who peddled lies about a “stolen election” and have no problem dog whistling to white supremacists.
“Nice” won’t do. The first 100 days are the easiest in a presidency — a honeymoon — now it gets harder.
Republicans with an eye on the mid-term elections they hope will win back control of Congress will not support increased taxes.
After the mid-terms the campaigning begins for the next presidential election — one Biden as a likely one-term President will probably not contest. And the Democrats on Biden’s side will be worried about their political futures.
Another concern is whether Biden’s “restore America” policy goes far enough. There will be no tax increases for those making less than $400,000 a year. Is this how redistribution works in practice?
What does an unemployed factory worker think about a $400,000 salary? Some have tried to portray Biden’s proposal as a leftward shift, but it isn’t far enough left for some on his side of politics.
Biden faces a world that is still a tinderbox as he seeks to put out the flames of a country on fire. Democracy is on the decline across the world; increasing populism and tribalism have weakened democratic nations, and political strongmen have taken control through the ballot box.
At the same time, authoritarianism is on the rise: China will undoubtedly overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by the end of this decade.
Betting against America
It is not a safe bet, according to Biden, to bet against America. Xi Jinping, on the other hand, is doing just that. He recognizes American weakness and is already stifling opposition at home, threatening Taiwan, and expanding China’s economic and military clout.
The Taliban bet against America, and as Biden prepares to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, the insurgents are declaring victory and aiming to reclaim control.
Vladimir Putin has taken a stand against the United States of America.
North Korea has bet against the United States, developing a nuclear arsenal as the US has been unable to stop it.
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has wagered against the United States and remains in power.
It’s possible that Trump made a gamble against America — against American hope and in favor of American carnage — and it paid off, propelling him to the White House.
For others, betting against America has proven to be a winning strategy.
Source: ABC World News