Editorial:Biden has to clean up Trump's mess

【明報專訊】After five long days of vote counting, the result in Pennsylvania was finally released at the weekend. Winning the state by more than 30,000 votes, Biden has crossed the threshold of 270 electoral votes to be elected president. Biden has become the oldest president-elect in US history, and Kamala Harris, his running mate, has become the most politically powerful American woman ever.

In this election, Biden received more than 74 million popular votes, the most in history. Trump, the losing candidate, received more than 70 million votes, which is also a record. The results underscore how deeply America is divided. In declaring victory, Biden emphasised unity many times, promising to be ''a president for all Americans'' and calling on all parties to put aside partisan bickering. He said, ''We may be opponents, but we are not enemies.'' Trump refused to admit defeat, insisting that the election was ''rigged'' and said he would file lawsuits in several states. With Biden's White House experience and connections, even if Trump doesn't co-operate, the impact on the transfer of power is expected to be limited.

Biden's first priority when cleaning up Trump's mess is of course to deal with the pandemic, which is also believed to be the consensus between the government and the American people. But the question is whether he can reunite the country and move forward. Trump has taken a politicised approach against the pandemic, with tens of millions of his supporters refusing to wear masks, rejecting social distancing restrictions, and treating the pandemic as if it were the flu. With such an approach, it is not easy to fight the pandemic with one heart. American politics is highly polarised, and the middle ground has almost ceased to exist. Even within the Democratic Party, there are differences in approaches. Whether Biden can demonstrate the power of tolerance and unity to show the world that the US can put aside its electoral differences and divergent views and do a good job of handling the pandemic and the economy will be a major concern for all sides.

Trump's assertiveness and extremist approach toward China has pleased some, but the US has benefited little from it. There are even fears of a war between the two countries. Biden's election will reduce this risk. Biden does not intend to engage in a trade war not because he wants to appease China, but because doing so is not in America's interests. Biden emphasises international co-operation to combat the pandemic and global warming. This will lead to pragmatic co-operation between China and the US in these areas and hopefully restore high-level communication and contribute to international stability. However, Biden will certainly seek to step up the US's containment of China by gaining an upper hand in international rules and working with the US's allies. Biden has stated that he will convene a ''Global Democracy Summit'' in his first year in office, with the main purpose of reviving the US's leading role and exerting diplomatic pressure on China.

For a few days, the atmosphere in US society was tense but not chaotic, a major reason being that the election results were still in doubt. With the results of the election now clear and Trump impossible to overturn the result through lawsuit, some far-right groups might resort to violence. So we cannot say that the ''election crisis'' is over yet. Trump still has two months left in his term, and given his style, we cannot rule out the possibility of him doing something unexpected to avenge his loss in the election. All sides should be on guard.

明報社評 2020.11.09:特朗普留爛攤子 拜登須煉石補天






■/ Glossary 生字 /

underscore /ˌʌndəˈskɔː(r)/:to emphasise the fact that sth is important or true

partisan /ˌpɑːtɪˈzæn/:showing too much support for one person, group or idea, especially without considering it carefully

bickering /ˈbɪkərɪŋ/:the activity of arguing about things that are not important


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