On Nov. 3, Georgia elected the Democratic Biden-Harris ticket and defeated the incumbent President Donald Trump. Now, in the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs, Georgians gave us the twin wins of Democratic Senate candidates, Rev. Ralphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. This means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the “Grim Reaper” Republican of the U.S. Senate, will be replaced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat, of New York.
Without the Warnock-Ossoff win, the forthcoming Biden administration would have been prevented from repairing American democracy that Trump has damaged. McConnell’s sobriquet comes from his gleeful killing of even the bipartisan bills sent from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Besides killing bills, the majority leader of the Senate selects the chairpersons of Senate committees and subcommittees. They are vital for passing bills, approving political appointees of all the federal departments, and the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal court justices. In other words, McConnell would kill Biden’s governing responsibility. The two essential guardrails of American democracy are a clean election and fair courts upholding the U.S. Constitution. They have withstood Trumpian shocks and Republican manipulations.
Aghast at Trump-McConnell destruction of American democracy, Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times wrote last year, “The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now, for the first time, we pity it.” My friends in Japan, China as well as in Canada and Germany have expressed their anxieties about Trump-McConnell America. They asked, “Has America abandoned its role as the leader of the world?” Democratic nations in Asia, Europe and North America have been disappointed by the Trump-McConnell “America First” policy (read America alone and isolated). They expect that Biden will help America regain its global democratic leadership, so it can deal with global climate destruction and shore up democracies throughout the world.
President Trump’s negligence and denial have already resulted in over 350,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. There is no end in sight. Hospitals are seriously considering rationing the care of COVID-19 patients. The Trumpian coup d’etat comedy is not bloodless. The America-Germany collaboration produced an effective vaccine against COVID-19, but Trump-McConnell America has miserably botched the promised vaccination implementation. Trump promised 20 million vaccinations by the end of 2020. In reality, however, fewer than 5 million vaccinations have been actually recorded by the CDC. Unfortunately, Trump-McConnell Republicans have refused to assist states and local municipalities devastated by coronavirus pandemic-related expenses and drastic shortfalls of retail sales tax revenues. More importantly, President Trump has appointed greedy lobbyists and incompetent political hacks to his cabinet who have not been able to govern America and let coronavirus devastate American economy and public health.
The forthcoming Biden administration is staffed by extremely able, dedicated public servants, ready to translate Biden’s policies into long overdue action.
It was no accident that former President Ronald Reagan (Republican) began his presidential election campaign in 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi (not Pennsylvania) where three college student civil rights workers were tortured and brutally killed by KKK thugs. In his inaugural speech, President Reagan declared that “the most terrifying words in English are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” This was the beginning of the Trump-McConnell Republican credo: (1) government is your enemy, (2) white people are the real victims of racism, (3) taxes are theft, (4) labor unions are bad actors, and (5) environmental protection destroys the economy.
With Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, the forthcoming Biden administration will regain the Roosevelt-Truman-Eisenhower tradition of active “help-is-on-the-way” federal government leadership for ordinary Americans.
Unfortunately, the Grim Reaper McConnell and Republican members of Congress will continue to deceive Americans about the evils of government budget deficits that President Biden’s promised repair of America’s economic, educational, and public health problems would cause temporarily. In today’s world of the post-Smart Phone Revolution of 2007, as shown by persistent low real interest rates (Federal Reserve System’s short-term rate minus an annual rate of inflation) and increasing domestic savings, the U.S. federal government can continue to borrow necessary funds without triggering rampant inflation. Together with needed borrowing and billionaires and large prosperous corporations starting to pay their fair share of taxes, the Biden administration can finance strategic investments in climate and energy repair, in long-ignored infrastructure and in pre-K to college education.
Without crushing the coronavirus pandemic, America will not recover economically and socially. Now is the time for us to work together to achieve President Biden’s goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days as the U.S. president.
— Yoshi Tsurumi of Rock Creek Lane is professor emeritus of international business, Baruch College, City University of New York.