The Country Is Back with Biden. Will Democracy Prevail?

Biden’s legislative victories and action by the Justice Department against Trump will only increase polarization and conflict, and might even result in a failure of governability.

Democracy is complicated, especially when there are checks and balances. It is even more complicated given that polarization is as extensive as it is in our neighboring country, the United States.

Joe Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history at 79, appeared to be on the ropes. Bis approval ratings plummeted to just 30%. But the president is coming back to life; his ratings have already risen to 40% in the last few days alone.

Biden promised that the United States would be back during his first term. Donald Trump dedicated himself to destroying the country during his term in office (2016-2020), saying, “We are going to Washington D.C., and we are going to drain the swamp.”

The veteran Democratic president currently holds a very slim majority, especially in the Senate. There, the Democrats and Republicans are divided 50-50, with the vice president casting the deciding vote to give the Democrats a meager advantage.

Moreover, two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, are not only centrists, but also clearly side with the right on many issues, as do their constituents.

For example, Manchin is a great friend of the coal industry that abounds in his state. Sinema is bitterly opposed to raising taxes.

Biden’s great ally, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, offered the two senators voter incentives and won their support for Biden’s recent bill [the Inflation Reduction Act].

Now, it turns out that Biden can present a strong legislative agenda as he approaches the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Analysts are comparing Biden’s achievements in only two years to the accomplishments of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama over the course of their two terms.

There was another surprise this week. The FBI searched Trump’s residence at Mar-a Lago for documents that Trump removed from the White House, action that may incriminate the former president.

Trump is screaming that it’s a witch hunt. There is no doubt that this is inciting his base, who see the FBI search as a Democratic plot to derail their leader’s run for reelection in 2024.

Will Biden’s achievements have an impact on the American voter? How will legal action against Trump by the Justice Department and the FBI play out politically?

There are two scenarios; one is pessimistic, and other one is optimistic.

First, the pessimistic outlook. Voters have two options. On the one hand, there are the Republicans, who believe government is the source of all evil and thus needs to be brought to heel, which is why the country needs an anti-establishment leader like Trump. On the other hand, there are the Democrats, who insist on leveling the playing field with interventionist public policies that allow the country to solve its serious domestic and international problems, like the strategic competition with China.

Biden’s legislative victories and actions by the Justice Department against Trump will only further polarize the country and deepen conflict, and might even lead to a failure of governability.

Secondly, the optimistic scenario. It is not about convincing the die-hard base of either of the parties. The government’s actions will have an impact that, no matter how minimal, will influence independent voters and those with any remaining sanity to leave the Trump camp.

It will not be long before we know whether the United States is back and if that will have a positive impact on American democracy. Americans will vote in less than 100 days; they will let us know whether they prefer the country that the Democrats are offering or the anti-state populism that the Republicans are offering.

The Republican-Trump option is clearly a setback for democracy.

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