Large parts of the world held its breath. And now, it can slowly exhale — and breathe in again.
It has taken a long time, (it is close) but Joe Biden has emerged victorious over Donald Trump. After only one term in office and four long years, the incumbent president must leave the White House on January 20. On that same day, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president. President Trump might have announced that he will challenge the result in the courts, even so, he should not stand a chance.
Good news for multilateralism
This is the good news for a world that believes in multilateral arrangements and longs for a reliable America. For people who believe in the good sense of NATO and the Paris climate agreement. For businesspeople, who need reliable regulations for their companies. And also for all those, who, as before, are convinced that the trans-Atlantic relationship is vital for the cohesion and the strength of western democracy.
Yet the times in which the United States carries the burden of world police predominantly alone, are finally over. It was former President Barack Obama who made it clear with his doctrine “Leading from behind,” that a large and financial engagement in military matters was expected. Trump built on this strategy shift — and Joe Biden will continue it, albeit in a more diplomatic manner.
Back to the Paris Agreement
Joe Biden is, like Obama to whom he served as vice president, an ardent supporter of the trans-Atlantic relationship. He treasures Germany and Europe as reliable partners. He has promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and to continue to meet the obligations of other multilateral alliances such as NATO.
Under President Biden, the US will once again become a dependable partner.
If Europe takes seriously the wake-up call of the Trump years, perhaps it could even become a partner on equal footing. This could happen when the European side of the partnership finally takes on a level of responsibility that does justice to Europe’s role in the world.
A trail of destruction
Viewed domestically, the election can be significantly less positively evaluated. Trump has left a trail of disruption. His leadership with targeted lies has damaged the trust in democratic processes and institutions in the long term. Many Trump voters will continue to maintain that the election results were manipulated.
Trump supporters will hold Joe Biden responsible for the economic faults that the US will have to contend with in the coming months, if not years. Even if Donald Trump is in part responsible for the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. In the four years of his time in office, Trump has changed the country. The Democrats had hoped a landslide victory would indicate a clear majority wanted a different course. But close race shows this is not the case.
The battle cry “America first” did not bring Trump his hoped-for victory. But the cry is still far from fading. Trump has enabled many Americans to express their racism, their xenophobia and fear of women in public. And they will continue to do so.
Joe Biden has won the election. But the Democrat has still not overcome the hatred that Trump has sowed, one that deepens the country’s divisions.