The 2020 US Presidential Election is just over five weeks away. Polls suggest that Trump may not be reelected. In this short article, I present some arguments why a Biden presidency may well be worse than the reelection of Trump for the US public and for humanity.
The world currently faces three fundamental challenges, the resolution of which will determine whether and/or how humanity will survive: climate change, neoliberalism, and the reserve currency status of the USD.
Climate change is likely to worsen the survival environment for a species that depends on the exploitation of it to survive: rising temperature will shift ocean current patterns, turning some currently fertile lands arid while worsening desertification elsewhere. The forest fires in Siberia, North America, and Australia this year merely represent a prelude of what is to come.
Neoliberalism has changed the social structure of many formerly free societies. The "inverse authoritarianism", neoliberalism is the takeover of oligarchs by diminishing the role of the state for the interests of profit rather than the takeover of an autocrat by pervading the state to every aspect of life. Nowhere has witnessed it more acutely than the USA, where the middle class has been dismantled, and where mass incarceration has caused the number of incarcerated Americans to rise sharply since 1980. At the same time, CEO-to-worker compensation ratio increased from 20-to-1 to around 300-to-1.
Last but not least, the reserve currency status of the US dollar is one of three cornerstones of US hegemony (the other two being its military and its lead in key technologies). The key decision of the Obama Administration to bail out the banks fundamentally changed capitalism and took us beyond the global financial system since the fall of the Bretton Woods system: Under Bretton Woods, the US dollar is backed by a certain amount of gold. Since 1971, the US dollar became a fiat currency; free-floating exchange rates were reintroduced, and global financial system functioned under the assumption that the US is solvent. The move in 2008 and the ensuing "quantitative easing" changed capitalism in that large US corporations are fully insured from losses, fundamentally removing the profit incentive. The reckless "printing" of money, including trillions spent directly in the US securities markets, while exporting the cost of US dollar to the world, undermines the confidence of the US dollar. The sole instrument that ensures that the USA can continue to take a large share of the values created abroad, the dollar exposes the global economy to systemic risks: If and when the USD ceases to be the reserve currency, trade will be more difficult, and demagogues will pop up across the world.
Biden Has Contributed to The Worsening of These Issues More than Trump
With over 40 years in the US Senate and another decade as the VP / former VP, Joe Biden has overseen decades of policies that worsened every aspect of these issues.
In fact, before Biden became a senator, he fought for segregation, including leading the charge on an issue that kept black students away from the classrooms of white students, which followed the amicably named "separate but equal" doctrine.
In the US Senate, Joe Biden has fought for the interests of credit card companies in his home state, Delaware, and against the interests of consumers. He is also known for co-authoring the 1994 Crime Bill that exacerbated mass incarceration in the US, targeting primarily minorities and immigrants. Joe Biden is also a supporter of every war that the US has fought during his tenure.
In contrast, Trump has done what every other American president would do, but for the rhetoric. He has initiated fewer military operations than his predecessors (because he believes, rightly so, that wars are unnecessarily costly). His military operations also have more clearly defined strategic goals ("get the oil" rather than "democracy").
While Trump has been horrid with regards to the environment, the social cohesion in the US, and the recklessness of the Treasury, the establishment Democrats (colleagues of Biden) enabled him every step of the way.
What May a Biden Presidency Entail?
This election cycle, Joe Biden insists that he will not sign any single-payer healthcare bill if elected president, nor will he implement any kind of "Green Dream".
Instead, to pander the progressives in his electoral coalition, Joe Biden picks a half black, half Indian woman to be his VP in an ultimate play of identity politics. (Almost, in fact, only if Kalama Harris had been part of the LGBTQ communityâ€¦) Almost half a century the white knight of neoliberalism, Joe Biden is not going to change current social and economic policies in any meaningful way.
However, as inequality worsens, support for the current system will continue to weaken under a Biden presidency. Protests will be more frequent, and reactionary forces will gain voice further. In the next election cycle, a demagogue worse than Trump may be elected as a result.
Moreover, the financial market today is propped up by the Trump Administration and the Federal Reserve. We cannot rule out the possibility that a defeated Trump may cease the constant cash injections to the securities markets. This may hasten the fall of the USD, the effect of which will coincide with the aftermath of the current pandemic across the globe.
What May a Second Trump Presidency Entail?
The reelection of Trump means a continuation of the current trajectory. To stay popular, Trump et al. will make more effort to contain the risks in a bloated stock market. However, they are unlikely to succeed, for every bubble must burst.
The difference is that after another four years of Trump the US will likely elect a more progressive government in 2024. Many progressives point to the right-way life-time judge appointments to US Federal and Supreme Courts as an urgent matter that will reshape the daily life in the US: This point is exaggerated, as the judiciary system in the US has always been conservative, even with the "liberal" judges.
None of These Matters
However, none of the above matters: While I still think Trump has a 50-50 chance of being reelected, a Biden presidency will not differ from a second Trump term in any meaningful way:
- Both will pursue short-term economic and political interests. Biden will pay lip service to climate change.
- Both will continue on the path of neoliberalism, even though Trump blames its products (globalization, NAFTA) whenever convenient.
- Neither will rescue the US dollar on its current path, with the end possibly closer under Biden.