COMMENTARY: By Bryan Bruce
On Wednesday, from behind a wall of bulletproof glass, outgoing US President Donald Trump told a crowd of his supporters to be brave and incited them to march on the Capitol Buildings where the electoral college votes were being counted.
They stormed it and in the chaos many were injured and five people – including a police officer – died.
The mayhem Trump encouraged and the grandstanding of some Republican senators on the floor of the Senate, however, only delayed the inevitable.
- READ MORE: Other Bryan Bruce commentaries on Asia Pacific Report
- Other reports on the storming of Capitol Buildings
The votes were finally counted. Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States come January 20 and charged with the responsibility of governing a nation politically divided and ravaged by a deadly pandemic.
Why should we, here in New Zealand, concern ourselves with what happened this week in America?
The answers to that deceptively simple question could fill a book, but this is a Facebook post so I’ll offer you just three.
- What happens to the US economy has a direct impact on the world economy and therefore on our own immediate economic future.
- The longer covid-19 remains uncontrolled in the USA the longer international travel will be disrupted and that does not bode well for us as an island nation geographically isolated as we are from Northern Hemisphere markets.
- The huge issue of climate change requires immediate action to be taken on the dire warnings of science about global warming and not the conspiracy ramblings of social media.
So where is the hope?
It lies in what also happened earlier that day in the USA.
When the votes were counted in the Georgia run-offs, Raphael Warnock became the first Black American in that state to be elected as a senator for that state and, along with Jon Ossoff, it gives the Democrats the control of the Senate as well as Congress.
Mandate for progressive policies
So the Biden administration now has a mandate to introduce progressive policies that will improve the lives of a great many of his fellow Americans.
Here in New Zealand Jacinda Ardern leads a government that has a mandate to introduce progressive policies in our own country and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and thereby improve the lives of the majority of New Zealanders.
We can’t do anything about what happens in America but we can do everything about what happens in our own country.
We need to accelerate our thinking about how to be more self-sustaining as a country and foster the idea of sharing the nation’s wealth instead of the selfishness promoted over the last 30 years of neoliberal economic policies.
And we need to keep the Ardern government on task by giving praise when praise is due and speaking up when we see fault and injustice.
Bryan Bruce is an independent filmmaker and journalist. Asia Pacific Report is publishing a series of occasional commentaries by him with permission.