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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 6, New Delhi, January 23, 2021

Transition From Divider-In-Chief To Sagacious Unifier | Vijay Kumar

Friday 22 January 2021, by Vijay Kumar

“The Democracy has prevailed”, common headline, chosen coincidently by “The Guardian” and “The New York Times”, published from the opposite ends of Atlantic is an unmistakable pointer to the immense sense of relief to Democrats and Liberals of the world by Bidden – Harris Inauguration. The administering of oath by the Chief Justice John Roberts to Joseph Bidden as the 46th President of the US, preceded by the administering of oath to Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President by Senior Judge Sonia Sotomayor, bring to close one of the most volatile transitions in the history of the US.

The last 3 consecutive Wednesday i.e. 6th, 13th and 20th January have been unprecedentedly eventful in the American history witnessed in recent times. It started on January 6, when right-wing mob, incited by outgoing President Trump, stormed into the congress at Capitol Hill and created mayhem. This triggered the passing of second impeachment resolution under the dynamic leadership of Nancy Pelosi with a modicum of bipartisan support from a conscientious segment of Republican Party on 13th January. The second impeachment resolution has paved the way for the impeachment trial in Senate, which is now under the control of Democrats, though 2/3rd requirement of voting needs the support of 17 Republicans, and finally, on 20th January, the constitutionally mandated date, when Bidden and Harris became President and Vice President respectively. The inauguration of Bidden-Harris team has not only brought relief but has also infused hope for better times in the days ahead for the US and the World. President Joe Bidden in his inaugural address declared that he is President of all Americans; not only for those who voted him. This statement bears the stamp of sagacity, maturity and statesmanship of President Joe Bidden. On January 6, mobocracy trumped democracy, but on January 20, with the inauguration of Bidden-Harris team, democracy trumped mobocracy. President Bidden rightly asserted that his primary duty is to restore the soul of America, and people is the source for power and demonstrated commitment to unite the country by overcoming all sorts of differences on the lines of conservatives/liberals, rural/ urban, white/black and coloured people and all other binary.

Joseph Bidden assumed the charge of presidency in most challenging time. More than four lakhs American have died due to Covid-19 Pandemic, mainly on account of gross mismanagement – indeed denial by Trump. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and surviving on the basis of pay-cheque to pay-cheque. President Bidden immediately after taking oath passed flurry of orders reversing the Trump’s signature decisions on ban of Muslims from certain Islamic countries, Immigration issue and withdrawal from the Paris climate deal. The most formidable challenge, however, remains in respect of detoxifying the pernicious phenomenon of Trumpism grounded in post-truth, white supermacism and demagoguery. Trump is gone, but hideous Trumpism is surviving and President Bidden, known as synthesizer, is the best person to heal the virus of polarization of American society by toning down the temperature. The formation of most diverse cabinet in US history with Kamala Harris becoming first woman and coloured person to become Vice President is an occasion for celebration.

The restoration of regular press briefing in the White House in the very first day of Bidden presidency has marked the return of sanity, openness and norms which were crudely shattered by Trump during his presidency. This return of sanity was further evident in the Senate, where its erstwhile majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican who acted as a consigliere of Trump throughout his presidency, welcomed vice President Kamala Harris by showering encomium on her.

President Bidden must also strive towards ending the American isolation by restoring and strengthening multilateralism. Welcoming the approaching inauguration of Bidden presidency, Gordon Brown, former British Premier, wrote in The Guardian on 20th January edition, that America needs the World and World too needs America, and this should be the spirit with which President Bidden should play a constructive role in chartering out new international order. President Bidden must play an active role in promoting democracy and human rights outside America.

The storming of Congress at Capitol Hill on January 6, brought to entire world the fragile nature of American democracy, but the inauguration of Bidden-Harris team, the inaugural address of President Bidden and passing of series of orders reversing the policies of outgoing President Trump have also brought to the fore the resilience of American democracy. There are many countries, where democracy are backsliding and their leaders are thriving on polarisation, and the resolve of the President Bidden to unite the US by overcoming division naturally prods the democrats and liberals in India to pose the question – where is our Unifier and Healer of Indian society?, and who will retrieve the soul of Indian democracy?

(Author: Vijay Kumar is Advocate at the Supreme Court of India)

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