A+| A| A-

Symptom Controlled, Disease Persists

Biden’s policy of the “return to the normal” would be inadequate to decisively defeat Trumpism.

With the defeat of Donald Trump in the presidential election, progressive sections in the United States (US) and the world over have heaved a sigh of relief. Despite the angry backlash of socially dominant forces and the questionable nature of the election system, the majority of the US electorate succeeded in removing the person from the helm of affairs who in all means represents an antithesis to the enlightenment values. He is a man who defies truth and science, endorses the culture of fake news, challenges the basic tenets of the rule of law and all other constitutional checks and balances, detests the rule-based international order, and feels more comfortable in the company of authoritarian demagogues of different countries. So, the celebration is well-deserved. But as the reality sinks in, the very reality brought to the fore by this election, this joy and the sense of achievement are bound to be short-lived. It is no mean matter that this very man got endorsement from around 47.5% of the electorate (more than 7.25 crore voters). No leader, other than Joe Biden, has received so many votes in US history.

Though the mandate against him is decisive, as these lines are being written, Trump has not accepted the results. As per apprehensions, he and his Republican Party have launched numerous lawsuits in different states challenging the validity of the polling and counting process. They have launched a propaganda blitz and have blocked the process of power transition that should have begun as soon as the election results became clear. Whatever be the final outcome of this process, it is obvious that by this audacity, Trump’s team has conveyed its message to its enraged support base that the election has been stolen from them. It has resulted in numerous street protests of right-wing groups in different cities of the country. We can safely presume that these groups are only going to be more radicalised in the coming days.

Therefore, President-elect Biden is going to lead a highly agitated and deeply divided country. Aware of this fact, in his victory speech, he resolved to heal the wounds of the society. But this may not be so easy to do. Even his centrist credentials may not be of much use amid new cleavages created by new levels of economic inequality, a situation that is described in media discourses as “culture war,’’ and change in the nature of social conversations brought out by new social media.

It has been pointed out by many analysts that Biden’s approach to deal with the current socio-economic divisions is marred by a fundamental fallacy. His mantra is to “return to normal.” It has been understood as return to the (Barack) Obama days. But there is a counter-point to this approach. It has been argued that the path for the emergence of Trumpism was actually paved by that very “normal.” In this context, a pertinent question has been asked: Is Trump an aberration in US politics or just a symptom of a much deeper disease? If Biden fails to find an objective answer to this question, he may lead his country into a much grievous situation.

The Democratic Party is already showing signs of friction on the issue of the future direction of the Biden administration. Even while his victory was to be confirmed, salvos were fired from the pro-corporate wing of the party on left-wing leaders, blaming them for the lacklustre performance of the Democratic Party in these elections. These have been aptly rebutted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other left wingers of the party. Biden has to confront the reality that the hopes of the Democratic Party getting a majority in the Senate have been belied, and in actuality, they have lost their earlier strength in the House of Representatives. Why and who is responsible? Only by grossly ignoring the hard facts can Biden go by the right wing’s assessment on these questions. The facts are on the floor: numerous opinion polls have shown that issues raised by leftists are getting wide-spread support even among the Republican voters. Wherever questions like per hour minimum wage of $15, medicare for all, free education, etc, were put on vote in these elections, they received enormous support. Defying all odds, 26 out of 30 candidates for the Congress, endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, got elected. They will now be a powerful lobby at Capitol Hill. Many more such candidates have been elected to the state legislatures and city councils. It is true that many suburban Republican voters voted for Biden due to their personal distaste for Trump, but in Congressional elections, they remained loyal to their parent party. So, no prize for guessing that they will return to their fold in future elections. Compromising on real issues just to keep them in good humour clearly would be a flawed strategy.

Therefore, Biden and the Democratic Party have to decide which way to lean. If they intend to convert their current temporary majority into a permanent one, that could be done only by siding with the working people and creating a rainbow coalition of cultures. If the president-elect grasps today’s reality that now the centre is unable to hold, he will unleash many new possibilities. Otherwise, the spectre of Trumpism will keep haunting and it may make a comeback at the very first opportunity it gets.


Updated On : 24th Nov, 2020


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Using ordinance to protect freedom of expression from foul speech may result in damaging decent communication.

Only an empowered regulator can help boost production and cut coal imports.

Only a generous award by the Fifteenth Finance Commission can restore fiscal balance.

*/ */

The assessment of the new military alliance should be informed by its implications for Indian armed forces.

The fiscal stimulus is too little to have any major impact on the economy.

The new alliance is reconfigured around the prospect of democratic politics, but its realisation may face challenges.

A damning critique does not allow India to remain self-complacent on the economic and health fronts.


The dignity of public institutions depends on the practice of constitutional ideals.

The NDA government’s record in controlling hunger is dismal despite rising stocks of cereal.


Caste complacency of the ruling combination necessarily deflects attention from critical self-evaluation.

Back to Top