Tharman Says Divisions In US Society Will Hamper New Administration From Restoring Hope

After many gruelling days of counting, most media outlets have called the United States presidential election for Mr Joe Biden.

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However, incumbent US President Donald Trump has failed to concede defeat and is alleging fraud — that’s just one of the problems that will face Mr Biden as president.

Most importantly, he will have to heal the deep divisions in the country that have emerged over the last 4 years.

But Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said it’s possible that Mr Biden and the Senate, which is currently led by Republicans, can work together to serve the national interest.

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Tharman says US society is deeply divided

In a Facebook post on Saturday (7 Nov) night, soon before the latest results trickled in, Mr Tharman noted that US society is deeply divided on social and political lines.

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They were already on full display during the 2016 election, when Mr Trump took on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

4 years later, the divide is “more deeply entrenched”, Mr Tharman added, calling it a “domestic cold war”.

Almost every national issue is marked by distrust from both sides, with people even going so far as to demonise the other side.

Americans don’t agree on “soul of America”

To illustrate his point, Mr Tharman quoted Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus, who wrote in her editorial that,

Biden ran pledging to restore the soul of America, but Americans do not agree about the nature of that soul.

What that means is that Americans fundamentally disagree on what the country should be — should it be a progressive, multicultural nation or one that upholds traditional values?

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These divisions were always there, but Mr Trump’s election in 2016 exacerbated them by making both sides more vocal and forcing people to make a firm stand on what they stood for voting at the ballot box.

Divisions will hamper US administration

Mr Tharman is of the view that there’s much work to be done by the coming US administration and Congress to help the nation unite and give people hope:

  1. Overcoming Covid-19
  2. Supporting economic recovery and job growth
  3. Dealing with inequalities
  4. Taking on the climate crisis

However, the divisions in US society will hamper this work, he said.

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Mr Tharman also called it a “tragedy” that the divisions will hamper the very thing needed to unite people.

As Ms Marcus also wrote,

Winning was hard enough. Governing effectively in this environment may be mission impossible.

There’s still a chance for change

However, Mr Tharman sees a silver lining in this situation.

Many US voters still seek to unite, and want leadership that brings people together, he said.

As evidence, he pointed to former “red states” Arizona and Georgia, where Mr Biden now had the lead.

Mr Biden is close to flipping them over to the Democrats’ side, even though they have been gained by Republicans for a long time.

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Hence, Mr Tharman said,

We should never write off the chance for change.

Biden & Senate can work together

Thus, Mr Tharman believes that if Mr Biden as president faces a Republican-controlled Senate, there’s still a chance they may work together.

He said it’s “not impossible” that both sides, despite being from different parties, find a way to cooperate to serve the national interest.

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That’s because “politics is the art of the possible”, he added, and leaders and their values still matter.

Mr Tharman ended his post with lyrics from a song called “American Tune”, written by Paul Simon in 1973.

The song’s about the divisions in the US after the Vietnam War, and echoes the present state of the US.

Biden urges for unity in victory speech

Mr Biden has already made a victory speech, on Sunday (8 Nov) morning Singapore time.

In his speech, he also made an effort to reconcile the country, saying that despite campaigning as a Democrat, he will govern as an American president — i.e. he will serve Americans, even those who don’t support his party.

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He also urged for unity, saying,

It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other, to listen to each other again.

Watch the full speech of Mr Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on video here.

May the US become more peaceful again

Mr Tharman’s insightful analysis carries the hope that the US people will come together after the tumult of the last 4 years.

We certainly agree with him in wanting the world’s No. 1 superpower to return to a relatively peaceful state.

May the new president usher in a new era of togetherness and stability.

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Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook.