Abu-Ghazaleh Shares Insights with Bruce Stokes on The Economic and Social Pain of America

[03-03-2021 03:02 PM]

By Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

The recent American election has shown how fragmented America really is. The insurrection in Washington and the shenanigans that proceeded the election is clear proof that the system is fragmented and that for many, the American dream remains largely unfulfilled.

Biden faces an uphill struggle uniting the disjointed factions of the country in order to bring some semblance of order to what is supposed to be the most powerful nation on Earth. The ongoing challenges in controlling the COVID pandemic, bridging the growing gap between the rich and the poor, technology based job displacement and the growing racial and gender divides are all items high on the agenda which must be given careful thought and require firm action.

America is a country that has subjected its citizens to more changes and upheaval during their lifetime than any modern democracy. This continual transformation; be it political, economic or technological; is really taxing the American temperament and pressuring society to breaking point.

Change in America seems to be occurring too quickly for most with two-thirds of Republicans believing that since the 1950s, American culture and the general way of life has changed for the worse. During the same period, the demographics of the United States has changed significantly with a majority believing that America risks losing its identity due to immigration and six-in-ten Republicans think whites are discriminated against.

With a higher minimum wage and massive new job-creating government spending, Biden hopes to stem some of the US economic bleeding and curry favor with Democrats as well as Republicans to try and ease recent political tensions. While in the short time this is fine, it seems that the challenge in the longer term with increased automation will displace quarter of the American labor force within the next two decades.

Reskilling, upskilling and retraining are required; something which the US has been terrible in doing in the past. Money needs to be invested is comprehensive training schemes and the government needs to work in close collaboration with trade and industry to produce a productive, useful, skilled workforce that can serve the needs of the business sector across the US.

Americans are expecting their government to take care of them in light of increased job displacements through the introduction of a universal basic income type scheme that would guarantee a wage for those affected. Inevitably, this will face resistance from many quarters, particularly from conservatives who are against expensive government intervention, but could be a necessary move from Biden to ease political tensions that have fragmented US politics.

Economic interventions however will only go so far just to subdue those that supported Trump and saw him as a redeemer of the United States. This faction of the US population fear the increasing multiculturalism and diversity in the US and vote in larger percentages than the diversity-embracing majority. They produced Trump who fueled their concerns and gave them hope and it is very possible they could elect someone like him in the future.

Trumpism is not going to disappear and Biden needs to act swiftly and instigate national conversations about race, gender and ethnicity so that they are not left to brew in isolation. Their pace of acceptance must be accelerated as fear of the unknown may breed further contempt and fracture US politics even further.

The Biden administration must find ways of bringing groups together by listening to their concerns and building a spirit of cooperation and respect in an attempt to understand one another better, reducing the bitterness and achieve some level of acceptance between rival divisions. This might be achieved on local levels through civil engagements where community challenges are discussed in traditional settings such as town halls and community centers.

Much is at stake and the world is looking eagerly at how Biden handles the dichotomy between the American ideal that everyone is created equal and the historical racism, prejudice and extreme nationalism that has plagued the United States since its inception.

Much is at stake and Biden must act with great wisdom and foresight to avert even further greater fragmentation which would have dire implications both locally and internationally.

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