On January 20, 2021, a purposeful leadership will reassert itself
America will have a revival of democracy come January 20. The presidential election on November 3 was proof that after years of unmitigated chaos, after a long period of a faux presidency, it was once more possible to have decency return to American politics.
Now observe the contrasts between the cabal that is on its way out of power and the men and women of purpose making their way into the White House.
Mike Pompeo thought he was being clever a few days ago when he spoke -- and this was after Donald Trump had been defeated by Joe Biden -- of a second Trump inauguration in January next year. It is amazing to think that such a man happens to be secretary of state, America’s chief diplomat.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, did not impress anyone when some days ago she told the White House press corps that in January the defeated president would be inaugurated on Capitol Hill.
Observe the Republican lawmakers who have, post-election, shamelessly upended the law and convention by refusing to acknowledge, despite Biden’s 6-million popular vote advantage over Trump, despite his 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, that the Democrat had been elected America’s 46th president. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and all those other politicians will go down in history, will be recalled by their grandchildren, as men who deliberately and mischievously, perhaps criminally, undertook a campaign to undermine the democratic process in America.
Observe the bizarre manner in which Rudy Giuliani, once a respected mayor of New York, swiftly lost his respectability through trying to unearth dirt on Hunter Biden in Ukraine and then through legally representing Trump in attempting to overturn the results of the election. There was no shame in him.
Observe too the silence of Mike Pence, who knew that the election was over and lost and yet kept his silence, in the hope that a miracle would happen and allow him and Trump to stay on in office.
And, yes, observe Donald Trump, whose dark idea has been to pretend he won the election and that he was entitled to hold on to the White House. With his daughter and son-in-law as advisors, with his cronies indulging him in his whims day after day for four years, he presided over a fake presidency. Yes, “fake” is the term he has employed against others. Now it comes back, to describe the chaos he let loose in America and around the world. He has called Biden “Sleepy Joe,” and he has berated Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Hillary.”
All the crookedness typified by Donald Trump and his minions will come to an end at noon on January 20, 2021.
Observe now the other, brighter picture, of all the good, experienced, and decent people striding back to office under President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
John Kerry -- war veteran, former senator, former presidential candidate, former secretary of state -- will have the hard yet necessary job of restoring American self-esteem and global prominence through taking the country back to the Paris climate accord. As climate czar, with a place on the National Security Council, Kerry’s will be a voice heard in the global community.
Observe Antony Blinken, whose understanding of foreign policy has given him a niche he has richly deserved. After years of Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, men who have never had a grasp of diplomacy, Blinken, having been part of the Obama administration, will be informing Washington’s allies in particular and the world in general that America is back into being part of geopolitics as it happens to be.
Jake Sullivan, as national security advisor and with his experience under then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, will be serving a president who will not make policy by tweet. Sullivan will restore the dignity and power of the office enjoyed under McGeorge Bundy, Walt W Rostow, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Allen, Anthony Lake, Brent Scowcroft, Condoleezza Rice, and Susan Rice. He will not be working for a president who will be a security threat, as Trump has been, and will not be questioning the abilities of the country’s intelligence apparatus.
Janet Yellen, given her past role as chairwoman of the Fed, brings back to government rich experience. A sharp contrast to Steve Mnuchin, whose role as Trump’s treasury boss has largely been to indulge the tweeting president, Yellen brings to her office a sense of purpose and gravitas.
Finally, observe Joe Biden. Having served for 36 years as a senator and eight as vice president, he is at age 78 the man in whose hands is the opportunity to cleanse Washington of the detritus and toxicity that was the Trump administration. He understands politics and knows of the ways in which government works.
In Kamala Harris, America has a vice president who will be articulate in demanding that justice be the yardstick for America, for all its citizens.
America under Joe Biden will mean a return to the Paris climate accord, will mean a restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, will be the beginning of a restoration of links with Nato, will be a journey back to the WHO that the Trump-Pence team rudely snapped in the last four years.
For the world, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on January 20, 2021, America will be a land of new hope for its citizens. And hope was what John Fitzgerald Kennedy promised when he inaugurated his New Frontier 60 years ago on January 20, 1961.
In January, a farce of a presidency will end in Washington and purposeful leadership will reassert itself in America.
Syed Badrul Ahsan is a journalist and biographer.