The World after Covid

Biden on the Edge

In The Pandemic Is a Portal, Indian author Arundhati Roy writes, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” That new world is now coming into view if you listened to Biden’s State of the Union—government now is going to play an even larger part in our lives. Without thoughtful government intervention there would be no hope of defeating Covid19 or bringing us back to anywhere a normal state. It is an obvious point but one that we

need to understand. Biden already passed — a $1.9 trillion relief package — and now proposes a — a $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan and $1.8 trillion investment in families — as a means to directly help people, but also as Vox argues “to bolster the idea of America at home and around the world.”

One of the outcomes of the Covid19 pandemic is the recognition that authoritarian regimes maybe able to weather the destablising effects of Covid and similar pandemics better than western style democracies. Case in point India is crashing under the weight of enormous misgovernment while China seems to have weathered the storm. Democracy in Biden’s view is now under threat not just from authoritarians abroad but demogogues at home. Biden is aware that democracy nearly died in the US thanks to Trump who wanted to muscle his way into a second and perhaps forever term and nearly succeeded. He played on people’s distrust of politics and politicians who had failed to improve living standards for the victims of globalization—blue collar workers who wanted to believe that building a wall and resorting to blaming immigrants for their fate would solve their problems.

So this is the moment we are in. Biden stands at a critical point in American history-similar to the one that FDR stood at in the 1930s. Similar to the 1930s the GOP believed entirely in magic to get us out of the depression. They had the false belief that government regulation and taxation stood in the way of wealth creation. Biden unlike FDR is holding the thinnest of voting margins in the Congress—particularly the Senate. For Biden to succeed and beat back the tide of authoritarianism and demoguery he will need plenty of help moving the country to the center and talent to execute on his ambitious plans.