The Future is in Our Hands

The election is now over and Joe Biden is the President-elect. What is likely to happen after Biden is inaugurated? The incoming Biden administration will face numerous huge problems left behind by the Trump administration. It is likely that Covid-19 will still be a major concern here and in many other nations around the world. President Biden will also have to deal with high levels of unemployment, of homelessness, of hunger, of people underinsured or without health insurance, of income and wealth inequality as well as an angry and divided people. In addition, the Biden administration will have to deal with the appalling systemic discrimination against minorities, women and the poor.

The Trump administration also took steps that will likely increase the severity of the climate catastrophe scientists have been warning about for decades. We are already seeing the devastation caused by the rapidly changing climate and the risk of ever-greater devastation continues to grow. This situation requires an urgent worldwide campaign larger than anything humans have ever done. To achieve this necessary international cooperation also requires a huge change in the criminal and barbaric US militaristic and sanctions-based foreign policy. The US must rely on diplomacy and, among other things, respect the sovereignty of other nations. This change will thus allow a huge reduction in the corporate welfare given to the military-industrial complex.

However, if we accept politics as usual under the Biden presidency, that is, politics directed and controlled by Wall Street and large corporate interests, the human rights of a large portion of the US population will continue to be ignored. When government fails to address the needs of its people, its legitimacy can be questioned and there is a risk of society falling apart. The low level of voter participation in our elections, particularly in non-presidential years, is already a concern. Do people not vote because they have given up on the system? Even this year with a hotly contested election, roughly 1/3 of the eligible electorate failed to vote. Making matters worse, the blatant politicization of the Supreme Court has weakened its already tenuous claims to legitimacy as a non-partisan and independent branch of government.

If we continue to allow the profit-driven corporate-controlled media, including social media, to divide us from one another, we will be unable to overcome the huge problems mentioned above. It is necessary for ‘we the people’ to unite, to overcome the left/right, Democratic/Republican partisan divide, in order to force the US political system to work on behalf of the people instead of on behalf of the special interests of the wealthy. Only constant and strong nonviolent pressure on Congress and the White House from ‘we the people’ can overcome the power of money, that is, the legalized bribery in our national political system.

If the Biden administration adopts positions that clearly benefit ‘we the people’ instead of the wealthy and powerful, there is a good chance of overcoming much of our dangerous division. People of all political persuasions will realize we finally have a president who represents their interests instead of those of the super-wealthy.

Note what we demand are universally recognized human rights that people deserve wherever they are on the left/right political spectrum. These rights include decent housing, living wage jobs, good food, health care, education, fair and equal treatment before the law, voting, and a clean and safe environment. These are not extreme positions and people in many other nations have had these rights for decades. Unfortunately, we still don’t have these rights, making the US exceptional in the sense of how few basic human rights we actually have.

For example, in countries with these rights, people are not afraid of losing their health care if they lose their job or of going bankrupt due to high medical charges. There is not a loss of dignity or respect associated with receiving social benefits. Low and middle-income students can go to college without fear of graduating with huge debts.

Can we pressure President Biden enough for him to adopt this popular and winning approach? Can we put enough pressure on Congress to cause it to join in this campaign? Sí, se puede! This campaign requires that all of us across the political spectrum stand up for our legitimate rights. We have no other choice if we want to make the US live up to the lofty words that inspired millions here and around the world.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics and former Green candidate for Congress and for Governor of Colorado.