It is all over at last. Joe Biden has won the election. Trump and his baggage of narcotism has been voted out. There are difficult times ahead for America, especially in dealing with the deep fissures Trump’s crude populism have brought about. But, for now, new faces will be in the White House.
What is not clear is what Trump plans to do next. To embark on litigations and associated disruptive practices or give the nation a breathing space?
Intervention refers back to an earlier outline of the enormity of the problem confronting the. The depth of division along class, racial, sexual and other fault lines is much. Media platforms such as the Atlantic are comparing the depth of division and its implications to the 1850s. That is precisely what writers such as Ronald Brownstein is saying in his October 30th, 2020 piece titled “Why the 20s Could Be As Dangerous As the 1850s” in The Atlantic.
That should be a very surprising turn. The US ruling class has been the most successful in holding a nation of diverse identities together through a binding narrative. With the ideology of ‘grass to grace’, those that radical political economist Peter Gowan calls the “business democrats” in the US have persuaded everyone that those who work hard can become whatever they imagine themselves becoming. As you bend down to work hard, the business democrats can relax in enjoying their super profit because everyone has been blinded to the reality of exploitation. The business democrats or the mandarins of the Military-Industrial-Complex, (MIC) have, therefore, been a very sophisticated ruling class. For, aside from coming up with a binding narrative, the American ruling class has been able to take the country from a colony to the status of a superpower, irrespective of the tactics they used.
But the post Cold War shook the ruling class into frenzy. The neo-cons in particular came up with the idea that a peer competitor is an anti-thesis or an anathema to the US and should be prevented. It was in the pursuit of this that they exported the unwarranted hubris that alarmed a former US president such as Jimmy Carter to speak out against the culture of violence abroad. His is in addition to similar position by many American and other academics on the same topic. This is more so that the hubris abroad came along with divisive politics at home. By 2004, Samuel Huntington had published his Who Are We? Although conceding that America is a melting point for all identities, he nevertheless insisted that America has a core and that the core is being swamped.
Obama’s victory four years after the book messed up Huntington completely in both that particular book and in The Clash of Civilisation. In Obama, America was sending a message of a nuanced power even as Obama was no less lethal in dealing with perceived threat to the US.
But identity consciousness had sharpened to razor degree at home. The core (as used by Huntington) had become too ontologically insecure that only a Donald Trump could re-assure them at both the high and low levels of society. So, he won but only to alarm even the core of the core at home by his brusque approach to politics. Beyond the home front, he was to aggravate the disaster that unilateralism had caused within US allies and to the much flaunted Liberal World Order. As oppressive for a large part of the world as the Liberal World Order, its genius are the seeming consensus and nominal inclusiveness it embody. Trump’s national chauvinism and crude tactics have shattered all of these. Even conservative think tanks became apprehensive as much as leading US newspapers and popular culture platforms.
So, a Joe Biden victory will be a relief although it is not lost on anybody that America confronts a difficult time ahead. Biden evokes the possibility of not just rebuilding the Liberal World Order but even more importantly putting global justice on the agenda of international security in the post-Trump disaster. He can do this by bringing some elegance and nuance to the world stage.
His choice of a Vice-Presidential soul mate in someone with a tri-continental identity can help him. In the age of deep divisions, uncertainty, suspiciousness and fear, that choice can be reassuring and, therefore, strategic gesture. Beyond Kamala Harris’s tri-continental identity is her gender identity and the fact of her being a politician.
It is unlikely that Biden will make a big shift from the American imagination of the world as a space of tyrants and long shadows upon which light should shine from the ‘city on the hill’ but he might accept the Soyinka wits about the tiger not needing to go about demonstrating tigritude. He, like Clinton and Obama, can clothe power and humanize America’s status. Supremacism can only lead to disaster. That is what Americans have just rejected in the certain defeat of Trump.