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New and old challenges loom in a divided U.S. society

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Now, at the end of one of the most difficult years we have experienced at a collective and personal level, I ask myself how will we, as a society, overcome the profound divisions, bad blood, and lack of civility that has so affected this nation. And, which has been pushed by the very president that has also led, with help from the Republican Party, an assault on democracy and the will of a majority of voters.

This weekend followers of President Trump, in Washington, DC and in the state of Washington, demonstrated against an invented “election fraud,” carrying knives, wearing bulletproof vests and firearms, ripping flags of the “Black Lives Matter” movement from churches. Even the white supremacist “Proud Boys” made an appearance, showing their worst side with a vulgar message against “Antifa.” There were several injuries.

But no one is surprised that these people act in this way, since they have the support of  a president who promotes the false idea of “fraud” just to continue taking money from these same followers. They also have the support of a Republican Party that in Congress played the same dangerous game as Trump, uniting with the ridiculous lawsuit from the state of Texas, asking that the results of the elections in other key states that Biden won be dismissed, a lawsuit that the highest court, with a conservative majority, did not even want to hear for lack of legal basis. The thirst to maintain power at all costs has proved to be more powerful for the Republicans than the Constitution and democracy.

This is, in fact, one of the unknowns for the new year that is upon us: What will become of the Republican Party? Better put, what will sensible Republicans, who have seen their collective hit bottom with Trump in command, do, no matter how far they have fallen? Because the gutter politics that Trump imposed has unfortunately been profitable and effective among a wide swath of the electorate.

Trump just has to snap his fingers for his 74 million loyalists to support or undo the political aspirations of other Republicans. The question is how long will the cult of Trump last once the Biden Administration is in place and new battles emerge. Or whether Trump will continue to be present in a type of shadow government, with his Republican lackeys torpedoing the legislative agenda of Biden.

The saddest part is that this entire Republican spectacle is occurring in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed around 300,000 American souls and continues to count its victims. A pandemic that Trump and those Republicans minimized, with catastrophic consequences.

Regarding the pandemic, a light can already be seen at the end of the tunnel. With the approval of a vaccine its distribution across the United States and its territories begins, and although it will be months before results are seen, at least there is hope.

For COVID-19 there are already various vaccines, but for the other virus of prejudice, xenophobia, lies, and falsehoods that Trump and the Republicans spread throughout their allies, there is none.

This will be one of the principal challenges of the Joe Biden presidency: governing a divided nation with a divided Congress, but it will also be an enormous challenge for us as a society.

New Year, both old and new challenges.

Maribel Hastings