Disproportionate effects play a bit part in life. It’s like the story of waiting for a bus. Nothing happens and then three turn up at once. This week’s news is of Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the United States (US). My congratulations and best wishes to the people of the US.
For the last four years there has been a continuous drone of incoherence and self-absorption coming from Trump. It looked as if this was going to go on forever. In just a few days that unpredictable regime has been unseated even if they haven’t yet accepted the fact. Now, there’s a chance to strengthen transatlantic relations and rebuild after all the bluster, buffoonery and time wasted during the Trump era.
Joe Biden’s electoral victory means a shift of direction. Climate change is back on the agenda. There’s likely to be more multilateral efforts to solve common international problems. Most of all there’s the need for healing and to no longer drive wedges between peoples.
Clearly it’s a time to be optimistic but a moment of caution is necessary. There’s a couple of reasons for me thinking this way.
One, although over 70 million people in the US voted for change a considerable number didn’t. Where in the past, polarisation was a political tool used by the populists, the damage caused will not be fixed instantly. Considerable effort must be expended to reach out and heal wounds. So, how much time will the administration have for international relations?
Two, the ability of an administration to get things done depends not just on the Presidency in the US system of governance. The Republicans held a 53-47 majority in the US Senate chamber heading into this election. The Senate race in the State of Georgia has become pivotal. If Democrats gain control of the Senate, this shake-up will have major implications.
What happens next isn’t so clear. Populism gave the world Trump, and in the UK, it gave us Brexit. It’s given the UK an incompetent Government during a pandemic. Will the changes going on in the US have powerful ripples and bring about positive changes in the UK? No one knows – yet.