Joe Biden has become president-elect, and President Donald Trump lost to 2020 itself.
In this terrible year, multiple crises boiled over — from a global pandemic to a U.S. economic catastrophe, wildfires and hurricanes, and a historic reckoning with police violence and systemic racism.
Voters gave Trump the boot because in each and every case, he either ignored those crises or made them worse. And even as we turn the page on Trump, we can’t call it a day, move on with our lives, and forget about politics. All of the crises he either ignored or enflamed are still raging.
Let’s face it, there’s no going back from protesting to brunch. Our problems were always much bigger than Trump.
The past eight months have punctured the myth of American exceptionalism, which told us that we were better because we were better. Our systems and institutions were intrinsically, objectively superior to the rest of the world’s, and that accounted for the wealth of our people and the power of our empire.
It was the same kind of mythologizing that convinced the world Trump was a genius businessman. But that was a lie. Trump was a failed real estate mogul. He is the survivor of multiple bankruptcies, and recent reporting has shown that Trump’s losses in recent years have far exceeded his income.
Similarly, there is nothing magically or mystically “great” about America. We are as susceptible, as precarious and as subject to disaster as any other country — and our anemic institutions are less resilient than many.
For four decades, this country has embraced a political philosophy of neoliberalism. We shrank the public sphere and shifted risk from big companies to working people. And where we did make major public investments, it was in jails. We made less progress in schools and mental health care and social services.
COLUMN:Joe Biden, Black voters made you president. It’s time to right wrongs on criminal justice.
The result is yawning inequality and a system that’s fragile by design. Black communities in particular were underserved and overpoliced. Is it any wonder that when COVID-19 hit, we were caught flat-footed? Or that when George Floyd was killed at the knee of a Minnesota police officer, tens of millions took to the streets to declare that Black lives matter?
Because this wasn’t just a failure of management, firing the manager isn’t enough. It requires a comprehensive, systemic response.
Biden and the new Congress have their work cut out for them. They’ll have to fix the problems Trump ignored or made worse, and answer some tough questions Americans across the country are asking.
COLUMN:To our next president: 10 priorities for fixing our justice system
Here are just a few:
►If we can spend trillions of dollars to bail corporations out, can’t we afford things like universal health care and a real, robust plan to fight climate change?
►If some of our lowest paid, most expendable workers are in fact “essential” to survive this pandemic, shouldn’t all work have dignity and pay that reflects workers’ importance? Shouldn’t workers have a say over the conditions of their workplaces?
►If corporations actually rely on government bailouts to make it through a crisis, shouldn’t we the people get a share of the profits, and have a say that ensures companies are run in the best interests of workers and the public, not just bosses and shareholders?
►And finally, if Black people are vastly more likely to die at the hands of the police than white people, shouldn’t we divest public money from policing and incarceration, and invest in schools, health care, housing, jobs and social services that will allow Black people to thrive in America?
POLICING THE USA:A look at race, justice, media
Millions of people have been awakened by the pandemic, the recession and the uprising against police violence. And they aren’t going to quietly retire from politics once the president-elect enters the White House.