Joe Biden was sworn in today as President despite the efforts of Trump and his supporters to overturn the results of the election with lies and insurrection. While Trump and some Republicans persist in the dangerous lie of widespread voter fraud, there have been calls for unity. These generally amount to calls for the Democrats to allow Trump and his allies to avoid the consequences of their actions. The Republicans are also calling for the Democrats to work with them; the idea seems to be that the Republicans want the Democrats to forget and forgive years of refusal to work together.
While the country has been heavily divided by the lies of Trump and the right-wing media, I do agree that it would be good if the chasm between Americans could be bridged or at least reduced. But the burden of doing this rests on the right: they worked very hard to expand the crack in America with repeated lies. The latest big lie, that the election was stolen, is perhaps the biggest hammer blow on the crack. If Trump were not such a lazy and incompetent fascist, he might have been able to pull off a coup. Fortunately, he stirred up his base but did not secure meaningful support from the military and the police. He was also so lazy that he did not bother to go with his followers to the capitol; he simply went home to watch it play out on television. While Trump’s lazy, incompetent ignorance was a disaster in the context of COVID, these traits likely saved America from a fall into fascism. At least for now.
While the sulky snowflake Trump flew off to Florida, his followers and enablers are still pushing the lie that the election was stolen. Some are explicitly rejecting violence as a means of achieving their goals, but their persistence in this obvious lie encourages others to engage in violence. After all, the lie that the election was stolen and the lies that this necessitates (such as that the institutions and officials across the political spectrum and across the nation are in on the conspiracy) would tend to lead a believer to thinking that violence is the only rational option. After all, if Trump won and there is a massive conspiracy against him, there would seem to be no peaceful remedies. I do get why some Republicans would want to maintain the lie while also wanting things to be peaceful: they want to exploit the lie to their own advantage, but do not want to be killed by the mob or have the government destroyed. So, in terms of unity, the only chance for progress is for the Republicans and their allies to stop lying about the election and, ideally, hold Trump and his allies accountable. This seems unlikely and shows that the Republicans are not serious about unity: they just want to avoid accountability and are counting on Democrats being stupid enough to work with them. Democrats do, of course, have a history of doing just that.
While the right cast Joe as a radical leftist (while also accusing him of being a racist, a tough-on-crime politician, and a failure at advancing the progressive agenda) he is not. While Biden is to the left of fascists and authoritarians, he would be center-right on a “normal” political spectrum. That is, he favors the traditional status quo and wants to maintain capitalism. It is true that he will push the country leftwards—but this is leftwards from Trump. It is also true that he will support policies that help the middle class, minorities, and the poor—but none of these will be radical changes. He is a safe centrist and Wall Street is fine with Joe. It must be noted that he will make a big difference in the COVID response. Trump not only proved his ignorance and incompetence, but he also intentionally caused active harm to America—and his followers adored him for this. Biden will follow a rational plan that should improve things significantly, though he will face a serious obstacle in the form of Trump’s base.
While Joe is better than Trump (which is an insanely low bar that any normal human exceeds) it is unlikely that he will address the fundamental problems besetting the United States. While his policies will probably be a smidgen to the left of those of the Obama era, it is likely that we will see Obama 2.0 in terms of the policies Joe enacts. It would not, I think, be much of a stretch to say that we will see what amounts to a third Obama term—continuing what Obama did. As critics on the left (and attackers on the right) have pointed out, Obama-Biden did little for the workers of America. While Obama was obviously an historic President, his administration did relatively little to address the problems besetting minorities in America. That is, Obama-Biden was a very centrist regime and friendly to the elites of capitalism. Perhaps most importantly, the failures of Obama-Biden helped enable Trump to become President. While Trump lost the Presidency, a more competent fascist would probably have easily won—and the fascist to follow Biden might be a competent one.
Overall, I have the plausible worry that Joe is simply going to shift the country back to 2012. While this would be an improvement over where we are now, it will simply delay the success of fascism in America. As noted above, Trump is an incompetent, lazy fascist. He is also, as others have said, a soulless husk without virtue who can barely use language. Yet his followers are deluded into thinking he is strong, honest, and competent. Just imagine what a competent, charismatic fascist could do in 2024. Perhaps our only real hope is that America is a trash fascist country whose trash fascists (trashcists, if one will or trashcysts if one prefers) want trash leaders—so competent fascists will fail in favor of more Trumps.