I can’t help thinking as Biden signs one executive order after another reversing Trump’s legacy, that he’s been forced to become a much more dynamic President than he might otherwise have been. I suspect in other times he’d have been more like Starmer – cautious, gradual, unwilling to upset big business – but so devastating has the Trump legacy been, so pressing are the problems the US and the world face, that he has had to hit the ground running. So far he’s rejoined the Paris Accord on climate change and the WHO (cheers), reaffirmed the US commitment to NATO (boos because it’s largely a nuclear club) stopped a damaging oil pipeline, passed legislation on racial equality and reversed Trump’s opening of federal land to drilling.
Of course there’s a response to this; Trump has so emboldened his supporters both within and outside government that they have come to believe they are entitled to have what they want. You can’t tell me what to do seems to be their attitude, along with I have a right to make as much money as I want and if I want to take guns into the Senate, I will.
It’s tempting to be smug here; we don’t have the right to carry arms and recent trends are towards curtailing even those limited rights which obtain; nor do we have the death penalty – despite Priti Patel’s yearning to bring it back I suspect that outside Daily Mail-land there’s not much appetite for it. Yet if Biden gets his way we may soon be lagging behind the US in terms of human rights as one key thing he has done is to stop future private prisons and not renew the contracts of existing ones. It has always struck me as completely wrong to privatise prisons; they are a primary function of the state and the idea of some private company profiting from the incarceration of people makes me physically nauseous. And perhaps the best thing of all? Biden reportedly wants the UK to rejoin the EU.
Yes, OK the people voted to leave, but it was badly done and in my opinion should not have happened in that way. So we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile in a desperate flurry to repair the damage he himself has caused to the union, Boris Johnson plans a dash up to Scotland where no-one particularly wants him.
Far too many people have died here from Covid and pretty much all of us know someone lost to the virus, so let’s take a moment to remember them.