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Former Vice President Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election. While we may celebrate the end of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency, let’s not fall asleep and tune out politics. People may cheer about the fact we now have “civility” in the White House. They may cheer about how things will be back to “normal.” But the “normal” of the Barack Obama years isn’t desirable.
“Normal” under Obama was Wall Street bailouts when Americans were suffering from the Great Recession. That “normal” was cages being built at the border for migrant children, and the mass deportation of millions who had made their lives in this country. That “normal” was the countless bombing and drone strikes on multiple countries, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
The Affordable Care Act — what many consider Obama’s greatest achievement — was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t guarantee healthcare. People had insurance, but they avoided going to the doctor for preventable illnesses because copays and deductibles were too expensive.
Trump arrived on the scene and capitalized on the pain in America. He told people “illegals” are streaming across the border and taking advantage of Americans. He said he’d bring the jobs back and end all the foreign wars that were draining America. He even said we’d have universal healthcare.
“If we don’t acknowledge the faults of the pre-Trump years and the appeal Trump had, then we risk getting an evil greater than Trump.”
To people who were struggling, Trump seemed like the answer to their problems. They overlooked his racism, sexism and Islamophobia, among other things, because they thought he’d come in and fix problems unlike the establishment politicians, who just talk in flowery language and do nothing.
Trump came in and did his destruction. He expanded his coalition and gained more votes than he did in 2016. He got more non-white votes than any Republican presidential candidate in decades. If it weren’t for COVID-19, Trump would likely have beaten Biden.
If we don’t acknowledge the faults of the pre-Trump years and the appeal Trump had, then we risk getting an evil greater than Trump. There’s a solid block of the country that’ll stand behind Trump and won’t disappear. Trump energized the worst elements of the Republican base, and a more competent version of Trump could easily take advantage of this. The Republican Party would fall in line just as it did when Trump won the nomination in 2016. A more competent presidential candidate with Trump’s policies can cause a lot more damage to America and to the world.
We should celebrate for now, but we must be prepared to make demands from the Democrats. They will continue to do the bidding of corporations unless they’re pressured.
We need to pressure the establishment to pass a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system. We need to pressure them not just to invest in a greener economy and go carbon neutral by 2035, but to do so in a way that lifts up middle America instead of demonizing it. We need to pressure them for a plan to deal with automation when it replaces millions of jobs currently done by working class people. Organizations like the Sunrise Movement, Democratic Socialists of America and many others are doing great work with regard to these objectives.
We need to demand a temporary universal basic income so that people can stay home and the spread of COVID-19 can be halted. Having lockdowns without economic relief plays into the hands of those who wish to open up the economy without regard for human life.
And as we push our politicians, let’s continue to educate ourselves and others regarding the problems faced by the world. It’s only through raising awareness and pressuring those in power that we can prevent our decay into fascism and improve the world for everyone.