Why a Joe Biden victory in the US Presidential election would be best for Wales

Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Picture by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Keith Darlington

With less than a week to go before the US presidential elections, it seems reasonable to ask: what outcome would be best for Wales?

There is no doubt in my mind that the answer to that question is Joe Biden. And it’s not only because the Democratic candidate hails from Scranton, Pennsylvannia – a town with strong links to Wales due to the number of Welshmen who left to work in the town’s coal industry.

It’s because, unlike previous Presidential elections where the outcome may not have had much bearing on our lives in Wales, this election certainly does.

And there are three reasons why we should be crossing our fingers for a clear Biden victory in the early hours of Wednesday morning – Brexit, Covid-19 and climate change.

Wherever we live, however wealthy we are, and whatever our age these problems affect us all. However, there is little chance of solving either problem with Trump in the White House.

 

Covid-19

It should be obvious to all by now that the Covid-19 virus is not going to disappear anytime soon, and Trump’s erratic behaviour has made the problem worse.

Trump denied the scientific evidence and trivialised the seriousness of the pandemic by constantly saying it would disappear. He has mostly shown contempt to safe distancing protocol and ridicules Joe Biden for wearing a mask.

He has encouraged his supporters to flout the rules. Amongst his most insouciant remarks was his claim that drinking disinfectant would work.

And amidst all this pandemonium he has always found time to waste by firing angry Tweets at anyone who criticises his handling of the pandemic – rather than focussing his efforts on finding a solution.

He has blamed China, the World Health Organisation, the Democrats, State Governors, and the Media – everyone bar himself. But he is responsible. If a US president, the ‘leader of the free world’, can’t be called upon to lead a united response to such a global threat – who is?

He has lied frenetically and was even forced to admit that he told lies when he said that it was no worse than the flu and go away in April – he has continued to peddle these absurd claims since.

He has withdrawn US support for every world medical and scientific institute – including the World Health Organisation and rubbished his scientific advisors for saying what he doesn’t want to hear: that the problem is getting worse.

As many of his predecessors, including Reagan, would say – the buck stops here.

To demonstrate the scale of Trump’s failure in his mishandling of Covid, he has presided over the death of 225,000 US citizens. To put that into perspective, the USA has about 4% of the world population and yet has over 20% deaths from Covid.

The maximum number would have been expected to be about 45,000 with a competent leader who had his eye on the ball.

The pandemic cares little for international borders and so the virus raging out of control in one part of the world is a problem for every other part, too.

A safe pair of hands is desperately needed to try to bring the world together in solving this problem collectively.

Now, the number of infections, six months on, are rocketing again to record levels. With every passing day, his presidency reaps more death.

The world is crying out for leaders to roll their sleeves up and work together to find global solutions. But that cannot happen with President Trump.

US President Donald Trump. Picture by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Brexit

Another reason to root for Biden is that it makes a ‘no deal Brexit’ much less likely to happen.

Boris Johnson knows that Biden has stated that he would not agree to a trade deal with the UK that would undermine the Good Friday agreement

According to Ivan Rogers, a former UK Ambassador to the EU, Johnson is biding his time to see whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden is victorious in next week’s election.

“Several very senior sources in capitals have told me they believe Johnson will await clarity on the presidential election result before finally deciding whether to jump to ‘no deal’ with the EU,” Ivan Rogers told the Observer.

“[Or] conclude that this is just too risky with Biden heading for the White House, and hence live with some highly suboptimal (for Johnson) skinny free-trade agreement.”

The negative economic impact of a no deal Brexit – particularly for the future livelihoods of Welsh farmers – has already been spelt out in detail elsewhere.

Climate change

With Covid-19 raging across the globe it’s easy to become distracted from the other long-term and major challenge facing humanity – climate change.

From the intense fires in Australia and California, to the intense flooding in our own country, climate change is having a devastating effect on peoples lives.  Many homes in the Rhondda have experienced floods on four occasions this year alone.

Leaving aside the overwhelming scientific evidence available, the impact of climate change is now there for us all to see wherever we live in the world. Disputing that climate change is happening is like disputing that 1 + 1 = 2.

Yet, Trump does exactly that and calls climate change a hoax. To his shame, he refuses to sign up to the international climate change accord, something which every other country in the world has done.

The long-term damage done through floods, hurricanes, fires, windstorms is enormous. Weather events that used to happened once in a lifetime now happen almost weekly. These storms destroy homes and destroy the lives of many people, as many of the residents in the Rhondda will testify.

With polar ice caps melting rapidly, we are facing higher sea levels and this means catastrophe for millions of people. Scientists have also discovered that the frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean have started to be released – further exacerbating the risk of higher sea levels and this is happening very fast.

In short, we are running out of time, and can’t pause for another four years of an US President that refuses to take the problem seriously.

The world must act together to reduce carbon emissions and needs a President who will lead that effort.

Joe Biden has said that he will sign up to the Paris climate change accord on first day on the job, which would be an excellent start.

Joe Biden. Picture by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Conclusions

The world faces a dark period and we need a US President who has the temperament, competence, and character to help bring the world through it.

Trump has none of these things and the problems I described will likely get much worse if he is emboldened by another electoral mandate.

Joe Biden is certainly not without his faults and the US’ rigid two-party system often forces voters into choices that are less than ideal.

But at least on these crucial issues affecting all of us in the world – including here in Wales – he does have serious proposals for dealing with them.

If we wish to see life restored to some semblance of normality sooner rather than later, we should be hoping for a Biden victory next Tuesday.

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