Even If Joe Biden Wins, It Won’t Be The End Of America’s Problems

Joe Biden's failure to deliver a convincing vision makes a bright future for the USA seem increasingly unlikely.

Biden Trump election outcome

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The United States is going through a reckoning. That it’s happening during a major election year should be a brilliant opportunity to forge a brave new path. But instead, as Joe Biden said, “nothing will fundamentally change”.

The problems in the USA are almost too numerous to list. The entire country is plague-stricken and their healthcare is the most expensive in the world. A whopping 8 million Americans have been plunged into poverty by the coronavirus crisis.

The Republicans, one half of the political class, have been assaulting the institutions which were put in place to protect the integrity of the republic. Meanwhile, the entire country is riven by racial conflict, brought on by centuries of oppression of Black people, and failure to truly free them from the consequences of slavery.

All the while, the election campaign takes place behind the backdrop of the incumbent refusing to confirm if he’ll commit to a peaceful transfer of power, attempting to suppress votes, and prepping the Supreme Court to try to swing the election his way. If Donald Trump wins outright, he and the Republicans will spend the next four years either not addressing the country’s problems or making them worse. He is a symptom of the American malaise but he is also one now one of their biggest crises.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is the furthest thing from change possible. He’s pushing 80 (but so is Trump) and literally said “nothing would fundamentally change” if he were to become president. He does not support defunding or abolishing the police, a key demand of the Black Lives Matter movement, and won’t expand healthcare so it is available to all even in the middle of a plague.

On race, his track record is appalling. He may have been Vice President to the first Black president, but he also wrote the 1994 Crime Bill, which some say contributed to the mass incarceration of Black people in the ‘90s.

He opposed busing, a practice designed to integrate racially segregated schools.

His VP pick is just as bad. While a woman of colour herself, Kamala Harris locked up thousands of Black men for cannabis possession as the San Francisco District Attorney and Californian Attorney General, which has been a sore point for progressives in the country.

Despite his past, Biden’s policies aimed at resolving the police brutality issue are at least a step in the right direction. He aims to bring Black communities and police leaders together to talk out the problem, but the eventual efficacy of this is in doubt, as police groups around the country distance themselves from Biden and throw their weight behind Trump.

It also will not immediately resolve the civil unrest which remains a huge issue in cities across America. The protestors have said they will continue the movement no matter who wins.

“Regardless of who is in the White House in January, Black folks are going to be louder than we’ve ever been,” Black Democrat and Black Lives Matter activist Attica Scott told Vox on Monday.

Biden’s refusal to adopt Medicare for all also signals his unwillingness to deal with the structural issues which brought the United States to this point, only planning to expand on Obamacare in a way that would still leave as many as 15 million people uninsured, according to some estimates done pre-coronavirus. That number is likely to be higher now because of job losses.

So, even as hundreds of thousands of Americans die from an avoidable health crisis, Joe Biden is still content with telling millions he won’t support them.

On top of this, Biden will continue to support fracking, an environmentally damaging practice which also extracts fossil fuels which will end up in our atmosphere, even as the world tries to decarbonise in the face of climate catastrophe.

This dead-eyed cynicism of refusing to shake the establishment and permanently resolve issues like healthcare and policing to the benefit of the average American is one of the contributing factors of Trump’s rise. He is the symptom and not the disease.

Inequality is projected to continue rising, a situation locked in by decades of government inaction and financial crises following the booming economy of the late 20th century.

If Joe Biden manages to win the election and wrest the presidency out of the hands of a man who has flat-out refused to give it up if he loses, and has openly dog-whistled to violent white supremacist militias in front of the entire world, he will be faced with reforming an an entire country to avoid another Trump in the following four or eight years.

But Biden has regularly downplayed his desire to do this and his policies reflect that. Unless something changes, he and Trump will only lead the US further down the path that they’re on.

Trump has handled the coronavirus problem incredibly poorly and has made life worse for millions of Americans. But going back to the way things were won’t be able to save the country from its troubling future.

Maybe if Joe had listened better to poor and marginalised Americans — who appear to be so be so fed up with the current political system that they’re taking to the streets en-masse in protest, essentially waging war with law enforcement to fight for racial justice and better conditions for them and their families — then he would look like a convincing solution to the country’s woes.

Jim Malo is a journalist with an interest in politics and social justice. He tweets at @thejimmalo.