Some years ago I finally decided that there was no point on trying to understand America, and specifically American politics. There was nothing really to grasp, nothing to understand, no logic, no coherence, nothing, really, of that much interest. There was nothing there.
And yet, even I couldn’t help noticing the hysterical outbursts of sheer unadulterated joy and relief at Biden’s election, and the saturation coverage of his inauguration in much of the world’s media yesterday. Such bizarre behaviour would be a little more understandable if Biden were a young, dynamic, crusading, inspirational figure full of ideas for change, or, for that matter, if he had tried to pretend to be one, as Obama did. But why has a part of America and much of the world gone nuts over a geriatric hologram who campaigned under the slogan that Nothing was Going to Change? For most countries, that kind of slogan would be pretty inappropriate: for the United States, riven with appalling financial, economic , political and health crises, and with a population deeply alienated from the political system and in many cases actively hostile to it, it should have been a form of electoral suicide.
The answer, I think (making the dangerous assumption that logic applies here), is that, after four years of Trump forcing the American people to wake up and face their weakness and the true desperation of their predicament, a kindly, bumbling uncle has come along to tell Americans that it was all a bad dream, that everybody loves them, that their economy is fine, their political system is great, and so there’s no need to change anything. Go back to sleep, murmur the forces behind Biden, as they steal the money, destroy the jobs, undermine the economy, and find more wars to start. Go back to sleep, everything is fine, nothing to worry about. And this, in the end, is what just enough of the American people wanted, to be lulled back to sleep and not required to make hard choices or difficult decisions. I wonder how many of them know WH Auden’s lyrics for Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress?
“Sweet dreams, my master.
Dreams may lie/ but dream.
For when you wake, you die.”