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More Hopeful Times Ahead with President Joe Biden in a Post-Virus Era?

By Denis Bright  

Can the politics of hope replace the normal circus of a US Presidential election in these times of public health and financial crises? Is Joe Biden as the Democratic hopeful up to the task against a well-resourced and canny incumbent?

How are things trending on the Twin Fronts? What unchartered scenarios lie ahead before the scheduled Presidential voting day on 3 November 2020?

Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

The Guardian (9 April 2020) provided useful updates of the COVID-19 Crisis across the USA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site in Atlanta provides daily updates of the trend-lines.

While the North Eastern Metropolitan Areas are virus epicentres, there are clusters of COVID-19 around all major urban hubs across the USA.

Graphs of cases of COVID-19 may follow trends established in South Korea and China in the coming weeks after the peak of the crisis is finally attained.

 

 

Countries with different  health systems may be following similar trajectories.

Perhaps the degree of enforcement of social distancing is a key factor.

 

Regrettably, President Trump is uneasy about keeping the US in lockdown. The US was  a late starter in issuing lockdown directives. The  Trump Administration took its lockdown cues from the key epicentre states.

President Trump’s unease is linked to his concerns about the consequences of an over-extended lockdown for the financial welfare of the nation.

The US Financial Crisis-The Times They Are A-Changing

As the vital COVID-19 case numbers are likely to plateau and then to flatten in a few weeks, it is the financial crisis which is likely to intensify (The Guardian 9 April 2020). Perhaps there is provision to defer the presidential and congressional elections if unemployment trends worsen at a time of public health crisis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first landslide victory in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression came with a voter participation of 56.9 per cent. This was similar to recent voter participation rates in recent presidential elections.

McKinsey Global Institute in New York offers the possibility of a China-led recovery if the pandemic can be contained in the medium term in 2020:

 

 

Trajectories for the US economy and its global influence are of course unknown quantities at this stage. The McKinsey Institute does not extend its more detailed US projections beyond the current year.

 

 

Unchartered Social Outcomes of Previous Crises

In these times of financial and health crises, it is surprising that the US is turning to veteran leaders on both sides of the congressional aisles.

Old musical folk-heroes are being respected anew even if they maintain some left-leaning agendas as in the 1960s. Perhaps the popular music scene is an ongoing escape from the excesses of centre-right politics now as before.

Like Barry McGuire (Born 1935) of Eve of Destruction fame, Bob Dylan might be still alive to sing out the Trump Era. This is less likely if President Trump gains a second term. The changeover inauguration date in January 2025 is still a very long way off.

From near-retirement, Bob Dylan has just offered a new release on 27 March 2020. Murder Most Foul recalls the social aftermaths of President Kennedy’s (JFK’s) assassination on Friday 22 November 1963 (Full lyrics here).

Writing for MIT Press Reader, literature guru Timothy Hampton of the University of California, Berkley reminds every one of the haunting tragedies that afflict US society over which a cheery popular culture continues to offer band-aid compensations (The MIT Press Reader 3 April 2020).

Social band-aids were needed as high-profile assassinations in the 1960s. Formal politics in the USA tilted to the right while most of society continued its freedom-loving ways in the shadows of a more disciplined corporate society with its enormous and growing military industrial complexes.

The losses of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King within a few weeks of each other in 1968 deepened the wounds against a healthy social recovery from JFK’s assassination. When the Woodstock Festival convened in upstate New York in August 1969, President Nixon had already won by a landslide at the 1968 election. There was no It’s Time Era in formal US Politics as in Australia, Britain and across the expanding European Union.

Writing in The Conversation, Aniko Bodroghkozy, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia summed up the eerie mood across the USA as COVID-19 takes its toll:

Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus has turned the country’s cultural spigot off, with sports suspendedmuseums closed and movies postponed.

But the virus hasn’t stopped Bob Dylan, who, on the evening of March 26, released “Murder Most Foul,” a 17-minute long song about the Kennedy assassination.

Many have pondered the timing. So, have I.  I’m a Kennedy scholar, writing a book about how television handled coverage of the Kennedy assassination over a traumatic four-day “black weekend,” as it was called. I’ve also explored how Americans responded to the sudden upending of national life with the murder of a popular and uniquely telegenic president.

NBC News anchor David Brinkley, as he signed off that first night, called Kennedy’s death “just too much, too ugly and too fast.”

The coronavirus crisis may also seem too much and too ugly, though it’s unfolded much more slowly. While a global pandemic is certainly different from a political assassination, I wonder if Dylan sensed some resonance between the two events. Inscrutable as always, he’s unlikely to ever explain. And yet it’s hard to ignore the poignant similarities in the ways Americans have responded to each tragedy.

Ana Swanson of the New York Times notes the switch from trade and investment wars with China to increasing dependence on China for vital medical supplies in the current health crisis:

WASHINGTON — A commercial aircraft carrying 80 tons of gloves, masks, gowns and other medical supplies from Shanghai touched down in New York on Sunday, the first of 22 scheduled flights that White House officials say will funnel much-needed goods to the United States by early April as it battles the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

The plane delivered 130,000 N95 masks, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 10 million gloves and thousands of thermometers for distribution to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Lizzie Litzow, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ms. Litzow said that flights would be arriving in Chicago on Monday and in Ohio on Tuesday, and that supplies would be sent from there to other states using private-sector distribution networks.

While the goods that arrived in New York on Sunday will be welcomed by hospitals and health care workers — some of whom have resorted to rationing protective gear or using homemade supplies — they represent just a tiny portion of what American hospitals need. The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that the United States will require 3.5 billion masks if the pandemic lasts a year.

That overwhelming demand has set off a race among foreign countries, American officials at all levels of government and private individuals to acquire protective gear, ventilators and other much-needed goods from China, where newly built factories are churning out supplies even as China’s own epidemic wanes.

This sharing of medical assistance from China in a time of crisis is particularly significant. Australia has the green light to respond in a likewise manner (ABC News):

A freight flight from the city where the deadly coronavirus first appeared has arrived in Sydney, carrying 90 tonnes of protective masks, gowns and ventilators.

Tough restrictions on travel in and out of Wuhan, China were only lifted in the last 24 hours, and the city’s airport whirred back into action along with many other transport hubs in Hubei province.

The cargo flight, operated by Chinese carrier Suparna Airlines, arrived in Sydney after 9:00pm on Wednesday, and is the first flight from Wuhan to land at Australia’s busiest airport since late January.

“This flight will be carrying up to 90 tonnes of much needed medical supplies,” a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department told the ABC.

Readers who would like to promote discussion on this possible change agenda should add their comments in the interests of citizens’ journalism.

The Atlantic (20 November 2013) has offered some trivia from The Wire to assist in your assessment of Joe Biden from a selective focus on his College Years (The Atlantic 20 November 2013). Select quoting from this article would spoil its punch-lines.

Luck will have to be on Joe Biden’s side again if he is to overcome the challenges posed by the political colours on the 2016 US Presidential Election Map. The 2016 Campaign delivered a 304 to 227 margin for President Trump in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton gained almost 3 million primary votes over Donald Trump and attained 48.2 per cent of the overall vote.

The campaigning style of Joe Biden has yet to be tested against a canny incumbent with almost limitless campaigning resources to communicate with a nation in lockdown. Joe Biden’s ultimate political trial on 3 November 2020 must surely attract some of the silent majority who are not scared off by the long-odds.

Australia is so entwined in the global soft power network of the USA that our interest is imperative. I can recall the exact ABC radio news  bulletin at 6 a.m. on that Saturday morning here which  informed me of JFK’s assassination. It took years to understand the long-term even immediate consequences. With the assassin incorrectly portrayed as a communist sympathiser at the time, the electorate was already ready to stay with Robert Menzies on 30 November 1963 with his commitments to new F11 Fighter Jets and negotiations to accept the North West Cape Communication base through negotiations with US Ambassador William Battle. Australia was intimately caught up in the right-wing tendencies in global politics within the US Global Alliance.

The guide to form map from the 2016 Presidential Campaign shows the challenges facing my own outsider wager in favour of Joe Biden knowing that President Trump has a knack of mobilising his own support base in those key Swing States like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania which have the numbers to change our political world through the strange mechanics of the US Electoral College. Building up more progressive majorities in California and New York do help congressional numbers but do not influence the race prize for Joe Biden.

In the Hope of Progressive Change, I choose to Trust in my current assessment of Unchartered Times.

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with  specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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25 comments

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  1. mark delmege

    Biden is an empty husk of a man who I think has no chance of convincing enough voters into dodgy electronic voting booths (or otherwise) and is probably even less capable than Trump of countering the rolling machine of wall street and the military security state – even if he wanted too – and he has never demonstrated any willingness to do so yet – in fact he is a willing minion. If Trump is alive and kicking and running again, all things being equal, he will be returned. At best that might hasten the end of a rotten corrupt system – but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  2. Marcus Champ

    Biden is not just an empty husk, but a deeply corrupt neo-liberal corporatist with a terrible voting record…indeed, can make the argument, every corporate give-away, pointless war, devastating free-trade agreement, and/or failed social experiment has Joes signature on it somewhere. He is also both a terrible campaigner and lazy…and that was when he was lucid let alone the version we have now that can barely put a sentence together.

    Biden won mostly due to the massive amount of free press and the most amazing supplication/coalescing of the establishment behind Biden, that turned his pathetic failure up to South Carolina in a victory against Sanders…for whom the establishment fear more than trump winning again.

    I fail to see how Biden can win the presidency, and frankly am not sure which would be worse for the US or Australia for that matter…trump or Biden. Hard call at this point. As stated by Mark above, we can hope this might be the catalyst to bring down the whole rotten corrupt system, both in the US and here. We will see.

  3. Phil Pryor

    The two big Oaf Political groups of the USA could unite and form a great big Regressive Party, the Corporate bumboys and joygirls for bottom line (not you darling) delivery of exploitation theory, after all the humanity is filleted out. The challenger is an empty drum and the president is a loaded and blocked cess pit. We have months of nothing to go, nothing to get, nothing to change, Send Bezos the bill…

  4. Moira

    It is hard to see how anyone in the United States could be in election mode at the moment with the way the pandemic is playing out across the country .
    There is definitely no leadership from the current President so we will have to wait and see the mood of the people as the situation progresses towards November.

  5. Moira

    If the time is not right for a change in the White House now after the debacle of a reaction to tackling Covid 19 pandemic, you do wonder if it will ever be

  6. leefe

    The only upside to Biden as POTUS is that he cannot be as bad as Trump. Biden, at least, knows he is limited and listens to experts.

  7. Terence Mills

    The Republicans know what’s at stake and the one thing Biden cannot do is hide from the electorate.

    If Biden goes down with Covid 19 there’s no coming back – he’s 78 in November !

  8. Leila

    Australia seems to be developing a degree of policy independence from the USA. Good can come out of bad events. Thanks for your research Denis.

  9. mark delmege

    Biden or Trump – its simple really. Trump every day and thats not because I think he is any better. He’s not but he’s probably not worse either. They are both more or less beholden to the same gang of thieves and warmongers and will do what they are told.
    I’d rather argue against the rottenness of Trump for the next four years than with Liberals (so called progressives) who want to defend Biden because they think in someway he represents their interests and are blind to his wars and excesses like they were with Obama.
    Anyway it doesn’t matter what we think and, ha, the only agency that really listens to the American people is the NSA.

  10. Paul

    Thanks Denis for taking everyone into those Unchartered Waters.

  11. Tessa_M

    I am putting a wager on this being the Trump’s last hooray. He hasn’t exactly demonstrated great leadership through this challenging situation. Thanks Denis for an interesting piece.

  12. Chris

    Our future is influenced by the quality of policy decisions reached here and overseas. Trump should definitely hold off and avoid opening up America for business too soon.

  13. John Smith

    Biden is a rapist warmonger who is also suffering from dementia. He’s Trump-lite.

  14. Stella

    Denis, thanks for an interesting article about the US and how it is managing CoVid 19 and the political situation.

  15. Andy56

    its a simple formula. They are both narcissists, only Trump is of a higher quality. The old saying is you cant beat a narcissist at a game he’s been practicing all his life. Its quite clear to me, neither is really up to the task and both have been found wanting in the past. There is no incentive to vote for Biden, non. They are both foxes in the hen house, good luck america, you will need every bit.

  16. Graeme

    Sure US leaders have a lot more focus and seeming power than leaders in many other countries, but Trump and Biden are still leaders/figureheads for their respective parties. I’d take a Democratic Party governed USA over the Trump cult club any day.

  17. Matters Not

    Yes John Smith, neither Trump nor Biden are particularly attractive candidates. But one must choose regardless. In the United States, of course, there’s another option – Don’t Vote!

    Effectively, that takes the election of the President out of your hands (you, now with clear conscience and feelings of moral superiority etc) and further empowers the ones who do vote. And aren’t they so much more worthy than you to elect the President? But maybe not? That’s how the US got Trump in the first place.

    Sometimes called – Non-voters remorse.

  18. mark delmege

    ‘But one must choose regardless.’
    No we don’t. I’m Australian and my guess is most here are too.

  19. Matters Not

    mark delmege, for your future guidance:

    One is an English language, gender-neutral, indefinite pronoun that means, roughly, “a person.”

    That ‘one must choose regardless’ is a statement of an often unrecognised imperative. Even choosing to ‘not choose’ is in fact a choice that one makes. This is exemplified in a sense by the choice you made to ‘hit’ the keyboard. ‘One’ can be applied specifically to a particular individual in an identified situation or much more generally. The meaning you choose to give is down to you. It’s beyond this one’s control. Further, while ‘one’ might lead to a ‘we’, there are other options that go beyond the choice(s) you made.

    Yes, it’s fair to say that most readers here are probably Australian but are you suggesting that advice should not be proffered here to politicians in a general sense? Should I not suggest to Morrison what he might or might not do even though I didn’t elect him to Parliament (not being in his electorate) and not being a member of the Federal parliamentary Liberal Party Government therefore wasn’t qualified to vote in that particular election that made him Prime Minister?

    Australia is both effected and affected by the choices made by American citizens – including the ones that choose not to vote. Clearly they need lots of advice. In providing that advice, I am but one among many. Just sayin … Lol.

  20. Lara G.

    Creative research Denis. I like the references to popular music in these challenges times here in the Philippines. The USA is not a public health model for our country which alas does not have a national health service here. Filipinos have to borrow money to pay their hospital bills.

  21. mark delmege

    Thank you Matters, I stand corrected. Still, I see no reason to chose between the two, really. Just as I wouldn’t care much about choosing the hangman at my execution. I mean as bad as Trump is just look at the recent offerings by the Democrats. Clinton and Biden. Two low grade joke candidates – both of whom could easily qualify for lengthy jail sentences. They can’t be serious.

  22. Josephus

    Both candidates have to have their speeches edited post hoc, as both are stupid. We don’t need fools as crisis follows crisis, in whatever country. But voters choose them. Sanders is old , but he had policies. He was called a socialist, a derogatory term in the USA. He worried the corporations.

    One might do worse than put up for election anywhere someone who is intelligent but also strums the guitar or makes jokes, something that pleases the mob. Oh no, we have had guitarists and comedians win elections in recent years, who are not that savvy either.

    I give up.
    Off now to pick wild mushrooms .

  23. James Robo

    Cheers to Australian policy makers for their independent actions in locking down the country so successfully.

  24. Adrian

    Since when presidential tweets make any good for a better healthcare?? I really enjoyed reading this article. Superbly written! Thanks from Canada for your creative research Denis.

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