The results are out, and the President-elect of the US, Mr. Joe Biden, is being hailed as ‘the agent of change’. It is being anticipated that the politics of prejudice that his predecessor practiced and propagated will now be replaced by inclusiveness and fairness. But is it not premature to think of such positive changes? True, Mr. Biden replaces a man who was not fit for the role but whether or not Mr. Biden is fit and competent can only be assessed during and after his stint as the US President, not today. The point is that Trump’s incompetence can be no validation of Biden’s competence.
The other protagonist of the story is the VP-elect, Ms. Kamala Harris. Her nomination as the party’s VP candidate and subsequent win can only be hailed as America’s success in being a land of opportunity for immigrants. That women are making a mark in US politics and a woman of colour can assume the VP office is also a conclusion that can be drawn. However, this does not and cannot allow analysts and commentators to prematurely and impulsively declare that the office of VP will now be run with utmost competence- it can be, but only time will tell.
It is not new that we celebrate change but then forget that we celebrated it as we believed it will make our lives better. The fall of dictators in some middle-east countries was initially hailed as a moment of change; however, what ensued were prolonged wars, bloodshed and political turmoil and instability. The so-called change only made matters worse for the very inhabitants who saw it as a positive event.
Many other countries also corroborate this point. Pakistan has been ruled by civilian governments as well as military ones, and every time there was a change, people anticipated good to happen to them. However, little progress could be made. Another instance is PM Modi’s emphatic win in 2014 general elections. Even his staunch critics would have, somewhere in their hearts, expected something good after the not-so-good UPA-2 stint. But what has followed is a theocratic style of governance that finds support in populist and majoritarian politics, thereby taking the limelight away from inclusive development and economic prosperity.
Now the same things are happening in the US. Undeniably, Biden’s campaign pitch was more inclusive and optimistic than Trump’s. Undeniably, Kamala Harris rise is extraordinary. But that does not automatically mean that the next 4 years of administration will be great and devoid of any policy failures. Indeed, Trump made mistakes, just like UPA-2 in India; however, the new administration in the US must be assessed on how they deliver on their promises. It is not only equality, but also foreign relations, economic growth and such other things on which the new administration must be assessed in future.
Only then we must celebrate the change. Otherwise, this premature hailing can lead to the new incumbents forget that more than the failures of past administration, it is their own new policies and approach that matters. And hence, let’s celebrate if you so want, but do not forget.