Labour should be excited about President Biden demonstrating that another future is possible

by Jonathan Todd

“I’ve been hired to solve problems, not create division,” President Biden told a press conference at the end of March. This contrasts with his antagonistic predecessor and imposes his interpretation on a mandate gained with 81 million presidential votes.

When Barack Obama won the presidency with a then record-breaking 69 million votes, no one imagined that his vice president would go nearly 12 million votes better 12 years hence. Even more absurd would have been the idea that the 2020 election would also see Donald Trump beat Obama’s 2008 tally by 5 million votes.

Trump’s appeal may have been strong enough to secure victory without Covid-19 – which raised the stakes of the election. If profiting from division was all that mattered, we would be in Trump’s second term.

As performative patriotism abounds and blame for Brexit’s shortcomings is heaped on the EU, we do not need to look across the Atlantic to know that manipulation of division can seem a route to political dividend.

Labour’s challenge – like Biden’s – is to make a politics of solutions more compelling than that of division. The former is about tangible optimism, the latter stoking grievance.

The historically unprecedented speed with which Covid-19 vaccines have been developed is testament to humanity’s enduring capacity to think our way to reasons for cheerfulness. But now is not the time to stop thinking.

We need to vaccinate the world more quickly than the virus can mutate to evade our vaccines. To not do so risks global economic and social calamity.

We need to tackle climate change with the same innovative intensity as produced the vaccines. The alternative is disaster to dwarf Covid-19.

We face tremendous challenges that evade borders. What happens in Brazil, for example, does not stay in Brazil. The more Covid-19 skyrockets in south America’s most populous country, the more likely we are to suffer a vaccine-resistant mutation. The more the Amazon is destroyed, the harder it will be for us to limit climate change.

Not only can thinking and internationalism find solutions, but they can also midwife much enhanced human flourishing. A zero-carbon planet will be healthier, happier, and more prosperous. It will stop choking air pollution, renew nature’s awe-inspiring wonder, and deliver immense economic benefits, including abundant, cheap, clean energy and a jobs bonanza powered by zero-emission technologies.

We should be as excited about what is to be won by tackling climate change as we ought to be petrified by the rapidly unhabitable world that is the price for failing to take these actions.

Yet China looks at the west’s struggles with Covid-19 and sees a foretaste of how climate change will erode liberal democracy’s alure. If we believe in the rule of law and popular sovereignty, we need to meet the biggest challenges more convincingly than dictatorial alternatives.

Biden has not only gone bigger than Obama on presidential votes but also on stimulus packages. $3 trillion for infrastructure is designed, like the “great projects of the past”, thinking of FDR’s rebuilding of the American economy after the 1930s depression, to “unify and mobilise the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China.”

If that does not get your blood pumping, you might want to try something other than politics for kicks.

While the extent of support for Trump in 2020 underlines the ongoing risk of American democracy faltering, the potential of Biden’s presidency is vast. He has already passed a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that advocates say will cut the number of Americans living in poverty by a third and reduce child poverty by nearly half.

If that is not the kind of solution to get Labour pulses racing, I do not know what is.

Labour is grappling with the similar challenges to those that Biden overcame in the 2020 election and a government led by Keir Starmer could be as transformational for the UK as Biden is seeking to be for the US.

This prospect should have Labour buzzing, rather than agonising over whether we will ever return to government or seeking to revisit “the true path” of Jeremy Corbyn who took us further from doing so than at any time since 1935.

No one wins the culture wars. Certainly, not Labour. We need to elegantly sidestep them, while anticipating and meeting a growing appetite for solutions. Most centrally, in relation to economic justice, Biden’s leitmotif.

Another future is possible, as Starmer told us during the leadership election. Biden has since confirmed this.

Let this put a spring in our Labour steps, not least on doorsteps in advance of 6 May.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut

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7 Responses to “Labour should be excited about President Biden demonstrating that another future is possible”

  1. John P Reid says:

    Letting remain be on the ballot paper in the 2019 election will have such a devastating affect on the Labour Party it’s gonna take decades to see how long before repairing the damage will be fine it let the liberal elite take over the party who don’t care about Losing council seats in working class council estate areas to them it’s a moral victory
    Ever it loses representation

  2. Anne says:

    Let us hope so.

  3. John P Reid says:

    I can remember a few Liberal young Fans of rock Music thinking both John Lydon and Morrisey had the same political views as Billy bragg
    its’ funny I’ve known a few young Black Labour members who had both David Lammy and Dawn butler as their heroes who are so embarrassed by lammy’s transition from Blue labour to woke and Dawn Butlers transition from Blairite to anti white racist, race baiter who calls Black Tories uncle toms that they’re so in denial that their former heroes have come out with such shite they’re failing while trying to defend the nonsense they know speak, trying to defend the impossible

  4. John P Reid says:

    Diane abbott just said that Mothers of mixed race babies are 3 times more likely to die in Child birth than white mothers? Doesn’t she twig that a lot of White mothers can give birth to mixed race children?

  5. Timmy says:

    Should we discover that Biden has created a vast inflationary spiral by turning the money taps on precisely when they should be being turned off, will you be so excited I wonder? We will see in time of course, but that’s what it looks like to me at the moment

  6. A.J. says:

    Starmer ought to do well if he stays out of pubs. Stop him from falling over.

  7. Tafia says:

    John P Reid – Your obserbvations are spot on hiowever you are casting your seeds on stoney ground. Labour have not yet realised nor accepted that the reason they are so far behind in the polls is because of themselves – nothing else. They are where the public believe they should be – a long way behind.

    I also notice all the ”woke’ politicians have szipped their pointless mouths shut about the Olympic Commiyttee banning taking the knee with the threat that an athelete will be punished if they do and expelled if they do it twoce. I wonder what ‘take the knee’ Starmer and Rayner think of their pathetic decision to do it n a photo op a few months back,. It;ls about time the Premier League grew a pair and also stopped the players doing it – the other leagues have.

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