M Ashraf Azim, US
OR is it a new phase of America? Biden has been on the Hill for thirty six years as an important Member of the Senate. Add to it the eight years as VP with President Obama! It is a face so familiar with the U.S politics. On the other hand, Kamala Harris is absolutely a new and unique addition to the prestigious position of the Vice President of the United States. What is new are the circumstances in which Biden has been returned. The treacherous politics of Trump has trampled the age old tradition of gracefully conceding one’s defeat.
Sixty-two court rulings, including that of the Supreme Court and the validation by the Electoral Colleges of the fifty independent states did not deter Trump from holding of the January 6 rally outside the White House. This was a shame for the American democracy. There were no constitutional mechanisms in place to stopping a defeated President from organising such a rebellious rally.
An outraged President was determined in his craziest efforts to overturn the voice of the people. The 25th Amendment was a far cry as no one was willing to giving a thought to it. Not even after the citadel if democracy, was ransacked and the elected representatives mobbed. Blood was spilt on the Capitol. The rampaging crowds were called as the insurrectionists and the domestic terrorists. Trump’s incitement was seditious! He could not instantly condemn the ransacking and still “loved” them.
Let me just take you to 1980-81 when I was working for Congressman Claude Pepper (also addressed as Sen. Claude Pepper) a Democrat. Reagan, a Republican, was to be inaugurated as President in Jan.81.The Senator was cordially invited to the great event. In fact his wife and Barbara Bush ,wife of the Vice President George H. Bush were close friends. I never had a feeling that a Republican was being inaugurated as President.
The Democrats were gracefully witnessing the transition. There was a complete sense of calm and an edifying celebration in the air. The life on the Hill and throughput U S looked so peaceful. A chapter in the American politics had been turned and a new one opened. During my send off that year, my Congressman spoke eloquently of the American tradition of settling the political disputes via discussion and dialogue and not through a fight.
There seemed to be difference of opinion and no division before, during or after the elections till Donald Trump appeared on the scene. He dealt a deadly blow to the unity and trust of the American people. Racism, hatred against women, cursing the immigrants, pride in white nationalism, extolling the extreme right exceptionalism all divided the American body politic to the core. The spirit of accommodation dissipated. Animus and anger towards the political adversaries became an authentic norm. And all this when thousands of Americans were dying daily in the hospitals due to pandemic! No remorse for their deaths and no hesitation to calling his followers to the rallies for simple reason to demonstrating the loyalty of his base and showcasing his popular support to the world!
This is the new face of America! Biden has to clean up this face. Twenty five thousand troops to safeguard the celebration of democracy! The injured soul of the nation has to be healed. His task is daunting. He so emphatically wowed to commit himself to the unity of the country in his inaugural address. At hand is an evenly elected Senate, precariously bracing it’s options to move forward on the second time impeached former President whose base overwhelmingly still believed the elections were stolen. The animosity deeply driven into their minds. It will be a spectacle to see Biden winning back the trust of the majority of Americans. He is sincere and committed. The wibes he is creating seem to be touching the hearts. Let’s hope he is successful in vanquishing the dark forces of disunity and friction and make it a one nation with a diverse but peaceful outlook on the life again.
I would like to end my thoughts by praising the integrity and high moral ground of the U.S Judiciary which upheld the supremacy of law and the constitution. Kudos to all those officials, allied to the Trump Administration who were nonetheless not browbeaten by the pressure from the highest office. And not the least the Vice President Mike Pence who created history by standing firm to his oath!
—The writer is formerly Congressional fellow.