It’s official. The Trump era is no more. The presidency is soon being turned over to one of the most unassuming candidates in the Democratic primary, Joe Biden, who had unseated Trump by a margin of three states and nearly 7 million votes. The vice presidency is soon being turned over to the first African American, the first Asian American, and the first woman to hold the office, Kamala Harris. Although the Democrats held the House, several seats gained in the blue wave of 2018 flipped back to Republican. Republicans also won some Senate races unexpectedly. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Joni Ernst of Iowa all held onto their seats, despite being given even or favored odds that they would lose them. So the victory went to the Democrats, but not by enough for them to become complacent.
With control of the Senate riding on the two Georgia runoff elections, Democrats continued their efforts. They were able to win both runoffs, electing Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff as senators. Now that both houses of Congress are controlled by the Democrats, President-elect Biden has a legislative mandate to enact reforms.
Unlike some of his Democratic predecessors, Biden is a seasoned politician. He is under no delusions Republicans will do other than try to undermine any meaningful accomplishments of his administration. Despite Clinton’s and Obama’s attempts to placate Republicans, the party has become increasingly radicalized. Basic attempts to provide a reasonable safety net for the poor and working-class, which in many cases are far behind what other comparable Western democracies offer, are tarred as “socialist” by a party focused on increasing profits for the few and widening the yawning gap between America’s social classes.
Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter, despite being covered by Twitter’s “world leaders” policy technically allowing him on. Once, he was the force of nature that saved the platform. Now, Trump is an albatross. Social media must ingratiate itself to the new administration. Trump has even left his own party in disarray. Republicans, once content to blindly follow their leader, are now eager to distance themselves from him. The recent storming of the Capitol building by radical Trump-incited rightists even divided Trump’s diehard supporters. For many, who believed Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, this was just too far.
Thus, Biden has a brief window–perhaps until the 2022 Congressional elections, when control of one or both houses of Congress may well flip back to the Republicans–to enact meaningful reforms. Fortunately, he has the experience to hit the ground running and do so. Trump, however, has unleashed a monster–a visceral force of resentment that will refuse to accept our democratic process. This monster is not going away any time soon, and Biden’s challenge is to permanently keep it contained. Can he take things far enough, or will the media’s addiction to sensationalism let it loose again?
Social and conventional media need clearer, stricter, more transparent, less exploitable standards for what constitutes verified truth without hate. At the country’s founding, the colonies’ representatives developed a system where each colony was given a voice and each individual had specific rights. With voting power per capita shifting too far in favor of rural areas at the expense of cities, this needs to be revisited. The stakeholders of the Internet must also agree to an analogous, enforceable code of conduct. We live in a new world, where anyone with an Internet connection can spread hate and misinformation. We need to fully develop the social mores for this new world.