Biden inherits a divided nation and a tarnished Trump legacy

Biden inherits a divided nation and a tarnished Trump legacy

Coronavirus and impeachment overhang his presidency

On Jan. 20, 2021, for the first time since Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, an outgoing president will not attend the inauguration of his successor, in this case Joe Biden. Donald Trump’s refusal to abide by convention is a dismal coda to a presidency blackened by the coronavirus pandemic, impeachment for an unprecedented second time and an insurrection incited by the commander in chief himself.

Biden begins his own presidency in the direst possible circumstances. More than 70 million Americans voted for Trump. A majority of Republicans still believe, erroneously, that the Democrats “stole” the election. Aged 78, a veteran former senator with great experience in foreign policy, Biden is eager to move forward. But the damage wrought over the last four years will prove hard to banish.

The American political analyst Michael Lind identifies five separate crises enveloping the U.S. A political crisis, as power concentrates among narrow elites. An identity crisis marked by the absence of a shared sense of patriotism. A social crisis, long-in-the-making, marked by the decline of community. A demographic crisis, as couples marry later and have fewer children. And an economic crisis characterized by low-paid work, chronic job insecurity and a mountain of debt. Lind, writing in The Tablet, claims we are witnessing “the slow-motion disintegration of the United States of America in its present form.”