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Trustworthiness – Editorial, November; US election.

Biden is unexciting and past his best but not mad

‘Vote Joe’

For Village’s agenda of equality of outcome, sustainability and accountability, Bernie Sanders was the best champion.  

By comparison, his conservative Democrat vanquisher Joe Biden is ideologically vague, compromised,  wedded to mid-twentieth-century agendas and lacking timely radicalism. Biden’s persona is attractively folksy grandfatherly – and Irish-American – but he is past his best, inarticulate. 

Biden’s opponent Donald Trump is post-ideological/psychotic with no interest in ideas, still less in the ideas that comprise Village’s agenda.

His persona is entirely self-unaware, crass and bombastic.  He delivers his incendiary lies in  repetitive, unyielding chunks like a fairground barker. Trump is narcissistic to the point of insanity making him again the most dangerous candidate President in history. 

His paralysed opponents haven’t realised that only attacks that puncture his – and his supporters – image of himself ‘Brand Trump’ work – not ones that, for example show him immoral or illiberal.  

Trump does not distinguish truth from lies, argument from abuse or policy from whimsy. Even Reagan and W Bush regarded themselves as accountable for untruths; he does not.  A self-confessed greedy plutocrat he lies about his wealth, dodges taxes, abuses women, and plays with public health. He is incompetent. He takes no responsibility for anything at all.  He expressly says he takes no responsibility for the, at least 100,000, excess Covid-19 deaths.

Worse, he casually incites hatred. Trump has incited hatred against Muslims, Mexicans and Chinese, and denigrated Black Lives Matter and victims of police racism. In practice he has reduced the US’ intake of refugees from 86,000 in 2016 to 11,000 in 2020. Parents of 545 children separated from their families at the Southern border as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy cannot be found. Economic immigration is down by 50%.

Trump has never had clear policies, only policy-substitute mantras, instincts chief of which – after self-advancement – is aiding both the richest and the ordinary white supremacist. 

Nevertheless some of his stuff amazingly, worked out ok. 

He has not started any wars or incited as much violence as might have been predicted. He has undermined some international trade, particularly with China.  For Village that is not a bad thing. 

It is fair too to record that Trump has managed the US economy effectively if explosively – by deregulation against the common good.  According to the Economist magazine: “GDP growth was somewhat faster in 2017-19 than it was in either Barack Obama’s first or second term, according to official data. America also did well relative to other countries…There is clear evidence of an acceleration in the growth of America’s median household income from 2017 onwards”.

While  Biden wants to raise taxes on high-income households – over $400,000 –  Trump still aims to cut taxes for all income brackets – with no budgetary concern. The deficit for 2020 is over $3tr. The US national debt is over $27tr. 

On abortion, Biden is pro-choice; Trump, on the back of fake religiosity,  is pro-life. Biden would pass a federal law that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion so that even if the Supreme Court bucks the Roe v Wade precedent going back almost 50 years, that right would still exist. Trump aims to achieve a strong conservative majority in the Supreme Court that would probably leave the States to legislate on abortion, making it illegal in most parts of the US.

Trump is an incoherent climate denier. He claims ‘It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch… I don’t think science knows, actually”.  In practice US carbon dioxide emissions peaked on Trump’s watch in 2018. They fell for the last two years, but remain higher than they were before he took office. The average American emits 16.56 tonnes of CO2 a year, over twice as much as the average Chinese or European.

Implementing the fruits of a joint Sanders-Biden taskforce on climate, Biden’s climate plan has improved but he supports unsustainable fracking and is a devotee of the US car industry, albeit moving to electric,  and indeed of his own cherished sports car.

That these two defective candidates compete for the most powerful office in the world says more about the system than it does about the candidates. But most of all it bespeaks problems with the political culture of what has passed for a great nation.

Ultimately Biden will take us back to the political era of his biggest mentor, Obama. This piece is consciously and remarkably similar to a piece in Village from October 2016 assessing the  respective appeals of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

 Biden will disappoint even people considerably less radical than Village

Trump’s policies on climate, foreigners and equality; his iconoclastic geopolitics and his tiny fingers on the nuclear button; risk taking us back to the stone age. 

So, in the unlikely event you have a vote, use it for Sleepy Joe.