As I have said so many times before, the US is a one-party state. The party is a pro-war, pro-oligarchy party with two factions that are labeled Democrat and Republican that differ on mostly social issues. But having said that, it would be a mistake to assume that there is no difference between the two and that elections do not matter. There is a world of difference from Trump being elected in November and Joe Biden winning, as we can see by what happened immediately after Biden was sworn in when he unveiled a whole raft of executive orders and legislative proposals that set in motion polices that all headed in a positive direction.
Joe Biden has marked the start of his presidency by signing a flurry of executive orders on a suite of issues, including Covid-19, the environment, immigration and ethics.
Some of the executive actions undo significant actions from Donald Trump’s administration, including halting the travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, and ending the declaration of a national emergency used to justify funding construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border.
He also signed an order allowing the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and end the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census data used to determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.
The president also moved quickly to address Covid-19, signing orders to mandate mask wearing and social distancing in federal buildings and lands and to create a position of a Covid-19 response coordinator.
In other moves, Biden also revoked the permit granted for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and instructed all executive agencies to review executive actions that were “damaging to the environment, [or] unsupported by the best available science”. Biden also ordered all executive branch employees to sign an ethics pledge and placed limits on their ability to lobby the government while he is in office. The new president also ordered federal agencies to review equity in their existing policies and come up with a plan in 200 days to address inequality in them.
On his first day in office, Biden signed 17 executive actions – 15 will be executive orders.
To appreciate the difference that this election makes, if Trump had won, it is hard to say what he would have done on his first day because he was clearly not interested in governing as such and more interested in feeding the prejudices of himself and his cult following. He had clearly run out steam long before the end of his term. But none of the above Biden actions would have been taken. Instead we would have been treated to gloating and boasting and dog whistles to his cult as he would have seen re-election as an endorsement of his hateful rhetoric and policies that harmed the poor and people of color and other marginalized groups
The funny thing is that Biden’s policies will likely benefit Trump’s cult members as well because most of them belong to the poor to middle class demographic whose conditions Biden’s policies seek to improve. But that does not seem important to them. They crave the pandering of their white identity-based grievances that Trump was always willing to provide and so they will fight tooth and nail against Biden even as their lot improves because of him.