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Whither America?

Summary:
Fortunately, Joe Biden will assume the US presidency on January 20. But, as the shocking events of January 6 showed, it will take more than one person – and more than one presidential term – to overcome America’s longstanding challenges. NEW YORK – The assault on the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters, incited by Trump himself, was the predictable outcome of his four-year-long assault on democratic institutions, aided and abetted by so many in the Republican Party. And no one can say that Trump had not warned us: he was not committed to a peaceful transition of power. Many who benefited as he slashed taxes for corporations and the rich, rolled back environmental regulations, and appointed

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Fortunately, Joe Biden will assume the US presidency on January 20. But, as the shocking events of January 6 showed, it will take more than one person – and more than one presidential term – to overcome America’s longstanding challenges.

NEW YORK – The assault on the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters, incited by Trump himself, was the predictable outcome of his four-year-long assault on democratic institutions, aided and abetted by so many in the Republican Party. And no one can say that Trump had not warned us: he was not committed to a peaceful transition of power. Many who benefited as he slashed taxes for corporations and the rich, rolled back environmental regulations, and appointed business-friendly judges knew they were making a pact with the devil. Either they believed they could control the extremist forces he unleashed, or they didn’t care.

Where does America go from here? Is Trump an aberration, or a symptom of a deeper national malady? Can the United States be trusted? In four years, will the forces that gave rise to Trump, and the party that overwhelmingly supported him, triumph again? What can be done to prevent that outcome?

Trump is the product of multiple forces. For at least a quarter-century, the Republican Party has understood that it could represent the interests of business elites only by embracing anti-democratic measures (including voter suppression and gerrymandering) and allies, including the religious fundamentalists, white supremacists, and nationalist populists.

Of course, populism implied policies that were antithetical to business elites. But many business leaders spent decades mastering the ability to deceive the public. Big Tobacco spent lavishly on lawyers and bogus science to deny their products’ adverse health effects. Big Oil did likewise to deny...

Joseph E. Stiglitz
The official account of Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate economist based at Columbia University.

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