A time for strong steering
When the road gets especially rough and the signposts are progressively more confusing, it is time to have strong hands on the steering wheel. No point in exacerbating hazards that already threaten to dislodge the vehicle. Idiots in charge may be fun at times; this is not one of them. Joe Biden may not be the greatest statesman ever but there have been less inspiring Presidents before who have turned out to be terrific successes.
For those with courage, the Oval Office enables. Has Joe Biden got that courage?
With the very positive and driving support of Kamala Harris, this may be an example of growth in office. The western world hopes and prays so, for sure. The damage that has been done is considerable. Putting it right will take some time – do we have that time available? Can the mountain of work that needs to be done in the US actually be achieved at the same time as dealing with all the foreign affairs that are crying out to be tackled?
Mr Biden would be well advised to let his VP handle a lot of the domestic work and concentrate on allies and antagonists overseas – but it takes an exceptionally powerful President to do that. Nevertheless, it might happen; stranger things have. Age may not bring slick words and gestures but it has a way of making the view wider and the perspective longer. Both are in exceptionally short supply at present. How refreshing it would be if we had a President take a rational and objective view of the anti-China sentiment fomented by Trump.
The United States election is not only about those eligible to vote. The US default position is leader of the democratic world. It is not an option for the US to choose whether it wants the job. It is the richest country besides being the one with the greatest commitment to democracy. At present that looks shabby, a philosophy only half adopted, a regime capable of being perverted by corruption, much as any other political system. Rational, common sense people simply don’t believe in it any more. It has become so warped that defending it at home is turning out to be a gargantuan task. Defending it abroad is a whole new horizon.
Democracy should develop. All political systems get exploited and corrupt eventually. Strong leadership is no denial of democracy. Voters have clearly demonstrated a weakness in their thinking and judgment. If ever we needed to think longer term the climate has told us we must now. Denial of the gadarene slope that humankind is on is so untenable that it indicts those who don’t see it. Strong leaders don’t have to be despots. Cruel treatment of fellow humans is never acceptable, whatever the other side does. A strong father can be a kind one.
But discipline is important. The rampant spread of the virus demonstrates that. The ways in which simple rules have been ignored are not expressions of freedom but demonstrations of irresponsibility. Thousands of lives have been lost as a result of that bad behaviour. Democracy was not meant to be mob rule. The Financial Times got it right in the headline for an article on 26Oct20 when it said “The character of US democracy is on the ballot”. If the next President of the United States could adopt that as his watchword we would see a truly impressive legacy.
The US and the free world deserve such leadership.
The ra-ra of the Presidential election will disappear soon. There may still be interventions by Trump. Whatever the fallout from the hustings, the United States will hopefully settle down quickly to tackle the job at hand. Fighting a war with the virus concentrates the mind vigorously. The hard work often starts when the war is won. There are other wars in play that demand attention, too. People are worried about jobs, economics, climate, health, world stability and survival.
Let’s hope Joe Biden is elected President of the United States at the coming election. Let’s hope his hands are strong on the steering wheel.
The vehicle needs steadying.