With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the endless presidential election disputes, 2020 is destined to be an extraordinary year in American history. At present, the unemployment in the United States has soared, and the society has been seriously torn apart. It seems to be experiencing a huge crisis and test during the Great Depression of 1929.
At that time, the United States had not yet established a systematic social security system, and the whole society was full of frustration, loss and failure. Some people said that if it were not reformed, capitalism might die. Now, similar questions have reappeared.
Lessons from the past
During the Great Depression in 1929, the American government was headed by the business elite Republican President Hoover, who was the former Secretary of Commerce. Hoover believes in the traditional laissez-faire political concept, so the federal government has been inactive and inactive for a long time in the face of the crisis; excessively believes in the self-regulation function of the market, causing people to be at a loss in the face of the crisis.
Hoover hopes that the state government will mainly play a rescue role, but the crisis is national, even the whole of the West. How can the role of a state turn the situation around the whole country? In the face of this great crisis, only concerted federal government action, and must be urgent and unified action, is the only way out. Four years after Hoover became president, Americans abandoned Hoover and chose New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt, who had some results in organizing relief efforts during the Great Depression. Choosing Roosevelt is not only a new president, but also a new hope, but also a new capitalist model.
Roosevelt first became President of the United States in 1933. He called for an end to the dispute as soon as possible and take decisive action as soon as possible. In his inaugural speech, “There are many ways to solve the current problem, but talking alone cannot solve the problem. We must act and act as soon as possible.” To this end, he called on Americans to abandon partisanship and “disciplinedly overcome common problems”.
Roosevelt began to implement the New Deal, carried out all-round reforms, the federal government intensified its intervention in the economic field with unprecedented efforts, implemented government public projects on a large scale, and the crisis gradually eased. In 1935, the U.S. Congress passed the Social Security Act historically, and the welfare system was initially established. For the first time, Americans accepted the idea of relying on the government in times of difficulties, and the neoliberal thought was generally accepted. It was Roosevelt’s New Deal that gradually established the modern American system and reborn the United States from the Great Depression.
The sadness of American democracy
Under the COVID-19 epidemic, the United States has once again undergoes a severe test. However, the Trump administration has failed to take effective measures to fight the epidemic from the federal government level. The U.S. health care system has almost collapsed, and recently added more than 100,000 to 200,000 infected people every day. The pandemic has hit the U.S. job market, and some Americans who have lost their jobs have no money to pay rent or loans. The epidemic is also testing the courage, determination and actions of the federal government, asking how the federal government and state governments can work together to fight the epidemic in the face of a major public crisis.
However, the completed election and the Trump administration’s anti-epidemic performance have made most people not only see a united and collaborative United States, but also a strong federal government at work. On the contrary, the federal government and some state governments are tit-for-tat and do not give in to each other; the two parties are not cooperating and cooperate. Even accusing each other and demolishing Taiwan, the degree of party division is unprecedented, and the consensus on fighting against the epidemic cannot be reached.
This is the sadness of the United States, but also the tragedy of American democracy. National crisis management is not only a test of the federal government system and measures, but also a test of governance and governance concepts. To some extent, the democracy that American politicians flaunted not only did not solve the problem, but also became a hotbed of ideological division and a booster for the spread of the epidemic, allowing the United States to disarm itself first when facing the common enemy of mankind, the COVID-19 epidemic. This is the biggest mockery of American democracy.
“Diging a hole” is more important than handing over
The curtain of the election has long come to an end, but Trump, who is unfavorable, has been reluctant to admit defeat. According to tradition, the incumbent president should have actively cooperated with the elected president to do a good job in the transfer of power, especially at present, it is more important to work closely with the incoming new government on the fight against the epidemic and work together to solve the crisis. What people have seen is that supporters on both sides either continue to debate the legitimacy of the election or stage incredible scenes of conflict and violence in the streets.
As a “political ordinary person”, Trump has become more and more proficient in the use of power after four years of White House training. On the one hand, he questioned the election results and did not give up access to judicial proceedings. On the other hand, he continued to show his supporters the image of a politician who would never admit defeat. He used the advantage of the incumbent president to continue to consolidate the voter base and tried to return to the White House four years later.
Although Trump has conservative support in the Supreme Court, the justices of the Supreme Court will not be easily incited by Trump’s emotions on issues of principled issues related to the constitutional legitimacy of the United States constitutional law, otherwise the political system of the separation of powers in the United States will be real. It’s in danger. On December 11, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Texas to find the election results of several swing states, such as Pennsylvania, unconstitutional.
Nevertheless, it is an indisputable fact that Trump’s doubts about the legitimacy of the Democratic election victory have reinforced the sympathy of supporters for Trump, while exacerbating the dissatisfaction of Republican voters with the Democratic Party and further exacerbating partisan political polarization. This increasing political party confrontation and popular hostility during the power transition are not conducive to solving the current internal and external problems facing the United States. Against this background, it will be difficult for the new government to quickly obtain popular support to work together to fight the epidemic and fully restore the U.S. economy.
In addition to inciting emotions, Trump appointed new conservative officials before leaving office, hoping that some positions can be retained in the new government and continue to maintain policy coherence. At the same time, Trump has stepped up internal and external policy adjustments, trying to leave more political legacy and create more obstacles for future rulers.
The Trump administration has recently increased immigration eligibility review and immigration control; the frequency and intensity of diplomatic attacks are even rarer. The U.S. Department of Defense announced the withdrawal of some soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq, which is said to be completed five days before Biden’s inauguration, greatly reducing the number of troops. The Afghan government hopes to get the support of the Biden government in the future, and Trump’s withdrawal greatly reduces Biden’s follow-up policy space.
It is worth wary that at the end of the Trump administration, it has continuously strengthened the containment of China, tightened sanctions on Chinese enterprises, and even issued the so-called travel ban for members of the Communist Party of China, etc. Recently, the U.S. State Department announced the approval of $280 million “field information and communication system” arms sales to Taiwan, which is the 11th arms sale to Taiwan under Trump’s presidency and the sixth this year.
During the transition of presidential power, Trump did not aim at a smooth transition of power, but launched frequent offensives on internal and external policies, and the policy scale on some sensitive issues was getting larger and larger. This is bound to greatly reduce the space for domestic and foreign policy adjustment after the new government comes to power.
In the United States, the warning of guard against party disputes has long existed. During the first U.S. President of Washington, due to the different concepts of the governance of Treasury Secretary Hamilton and Secretary Jefferson, the political circles were divided into Federalists (the predecessor of the Republican Party) and the anti-Federal Party (the predecessor of the Democratic-Republican Party), and internal and external policy debates continued. When Washington left office in 1796, he warned Americans to pay attention to the harm of partisanship.
For the United States, this warning unfortunately speaks to the point.