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Joe Biden is President, but America’s democracy is under immense stress

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A bird’s eye view of Washington, and America’s democracy seems normal

In America, democracy seems to have returned to normal. Joe Biden is president.  Kamala Harris is vice president and Biden’s Cabinet is in place.  He has sent a budget to the Congress.  His emergency pandemic control and economic stimulus program became law.  Vaccinations will soon reach 70 per cent of Americans and the country is open. 

Summer is coming.  The new president’s approval rating is close to 60 per cent.  The press secretary briefs the media every weekday; the press is not referred to as “the enemy of the people.”  Biden and Harris get an intelligence briefing every day.  

When a crisis erupts, as it did in Israel and Gaza two weeks ago, the president attends to it

A ceasefire is agreed on, and is in place.  The Secretary of State visits the region and promotes peace.

“We could be at the end of a major era in Israeli politics”

A normal presidency, yes?  The way it was before Trump, yes?

But, at ground level, there are rifts, fissures, earthquakes.  Hyperpartisanship is at an all-time high.  No Republicans voted for the relief package – although several are claiming credit for what’s in it when they talk to their voters. 

Bipartisan talks on a $2 trillion infrastructure package are close to collapse.  The Senate requires a supermajority of 60 votes to do business, and there are not 10 Republican votes to join with the Senate’s 50 Democrats  to promote voting rights, or gun control, or policing reform, or immigration reform.

Furthermore, on a fundamentally important issue (establishing a special independent commission to examine and report on the insurrection that threatened America’s democracy) there were not 60 votes in the Senate to get it underway.  As was he case with 9/11, the country needs, it deserves, a full examination of the forces unleashed by President Trump that led to that terrible day, and for the country to come to a reckoning with the domestic terrorism threat to America’s democracy.


Underneath these partisan forces in Washington is a political landscape riven with division

“aMERICAN DEMOCRACY IS NOT WORKING’

70 per cent of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.  50 per cent of Republicans also believe Trump is the legitimate president – and Biden is not.


Those sentiments have triggered politicised  reviews and audits in several states of last November’s vote, and moves in several states, from Georgia to Arizona to Florida and Texas, to enact new laws that make voting much harder, and to depress voter turnout. 

It does not matter if Trump carried states like Texas and Florida; the legislatures there are passing new laws to restrict the ability to vote.


Donald Trump remains the dominant force in the Republican Party. 

Donald Trump served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021.

Members of Congress who question his leadership and what he does are purged from power.  The famous Trump base is intact, agitated and loyal to him.  And fear of those voters, and the threat they pose to any Republican in elected office who dares to break with Trump,  is preventing Republicans in Congress from working with Joe Biden and his program of rebuilding the country.

“tHERE NEEDS TO BE A RECKONING”


This is a difficult moment.  The country is a long way from healing.  How successful Biden will be as president is uncertain.  How empowered the Trump forces will remain is very much in play.  

Currently, at stake are not only the prospects for  domestic tranquility and steady progress towards a more perfect union, but also America’s reputation in a world dominated more and more by the forces of authoritarianism.


And the whole world is watching.

Read more by Bruce Wolpe here.

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret Vickers

    June 1, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Excellent overview Bruce. Deeply worrying, but current polls show only 25% of voters are Republican, of these 40% agree Biden is President, so crunching the data the proportion comprising Trumps base is about 15% (ref, Heather Cox R).

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Disney vs Netflix – who will win the streaming revenue raise?

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Netflix and Disney shares fall as the streaming companies fight to stay on top of their game

Investors to evaluate Walt Disney’s shift from cable television to subscription service as the company’s shares fall by 31 percent.

This comes after Netflix announced its first ever decrease in subscribers last month. The company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in its first quarter while predicting more losses ahead.

Netflix’s decision to suspend its services in Russia also led to a loss of 700,000 subscribers. It’s shares have also fallen by a staggering 71 percent this year, a bigger loss than its competitor Disney.

While Netflix struggles with its subscriber count, FactSet Estimates predicts Disney+ to have attracted 5.3 million new subscribers through march leading to a total of about 135.1 million subscribers.

Disney also predicts it will have amassed more than 230 million subscribers by September 2024.

Netflix is reportedly considering adding an advertisement-based subscription option by the end of the year as the company looks at how to stay competitive in the increasingly saturated streaming market.

In a previous statement, Netflix’s chief executive said they were looking to introduce advertisements in a year or two but a leaked internal note to the employees has revealed the company is introducing it as early as October 2022.

The note also says Netflix will begin cracking down on password sharing by monetizing it.

All of this has resulted in Netflix being sued by shareholders who argue they have been mislead about the state of the company and future prospects.

Rijul Baath contributed to this report

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Biden on his bike for 2024

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Before President Joe Biden fell from his bike while dismounting in Rehoboth Delaware – at his summer home for his 45th anniversary celebrations with Dr Jill Biden and Fathers Day on Sunday – he had a lot on his mind

Bruce Wolpe joins ticker NEWS – Donald Trump teases 2024 presidential bid

When he spoke to the Associated Press late last week he was very candid. 

In discussing the mood of the country, the president said

“ People are really, really down. They’re really down. Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything upset. Everything they counted on upset. But most of it’s a consequence of, of, of what’s happening, what happened is a consequence of the, the COVID crisis.

People lost their jobs. People are out of their jobs. And then, were they going to get back to work? Schools were closed. Think of this. I think we vastly underestimate this.”

BIDEN FALLS OFF BIKE

As a politician, Biden has always felt the people who he works for in his gut

The White House can be a bubble, but Biden’s was a pretty accurate take on how so many Americans are feeling right now. He went deeper:

“We have a little thing called climate change going on. And it’s having profound impacts. We got the tundra melting. We’ve got the North Pole, I mean, so people are looking and, and I think it’s totally understandable that they are worried because they look around and see,

“My God, everything is changing.” We have more hurricanes and tornadoes and flooding. People saw what — I took my kids years ago to Yellowstone Park. They call me, “Daddy did you see what happened at Yellowstone, right?” Well, it’s unthinkable. These are 1,000-year kinds of events.

I think, you know, I fully understand why the average voter out there is just confused and upset and worried. And they’re worried, for example, you know, can they send their kid back to, back to college? What’s going to happen? Are we going to take away the ability of people to borrow? So I think there’s a lot of reasons for people to want to know what comes next.”

Biden talked about his legislative program, and he thinks he can get the votes to lower the household costs of utility bills and prescription drugs, make investments in technology and broadband, and enact fairer taxes for the super-wealthy.  

Biden knows he has to deliver the goods. 

While the political chatter in Washington lurched into making his stumble off the bike a metaphor for his presidency right now, Biden immediately got back on it and pedaled ahead to his destination:  re-election in 2024.

There is a lot of speculation on whether he will run again. 

Here are the facts:  Biden wants to run again.  He especially wants to run again if Trump runs again.  Biden entered the presidential campaign in 2020 because he felt he had to save the country by stopping Trump from destroying America’s democracy.  And he did. Trump in 2024 only re-ignites the urgency of Biden’s mission.

There is no whispering from inside the White House undermining or contradicting the president’s intention. Among political professionals, there no material dissent from the judgment that Biden is the strongest Democratic candidate:  there is no obvious alternative who commands anything near the support Biden has among Democrats.  

Biden knows his approval rating.  He knows the Republicans smell blood. He knows many Democrats who voted for him have doubts given his age and his current standing.  But Biden knows that inflation will recede, the economy will recover, and the Republicans in 2023 will be the most extremist cohort of radical lawmakers the country has ever seen, and  that the place to be is in the centre, where elections in the United States are won and lost.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina

Rep. Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the third ranking leader in the House, whose support for Biden effectively sealed Biden’s nomination in 2020, said over the weekend   “My advice: be yourself, stay focused. Make the promises and keep them.”

That is exactly where Biden is.  To Joe Biden that looks like the winning hand in ’24.

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EXCLUSIVE: Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia speaks out

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Vasyl Myroshnychenko is seeking to engage private and public investment in Ukraine to help with its war recovery

Vasyl Myroshnychenko could not have possibly foreseen under what circumstances he would be accepting his ambassadorship.

The 41-year-old was fast-tracked into the important role of Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia when Russia invaded his nation in late February.

Myroshnychenko is seeking to meet with Australia’s newly-elected government to discuss trade and aid opportunities after returning from the war-torn country.

During Myroshnychenko’s eight-day visit to Ukraine, he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s most senior advisors, the prime minister, and other military officials.

“I hope Putin dies tomorrow, maybe today.”

Vasyl Myroshnychenko

Myroshnychenko spoke exclusively to TICKER NEWS, in which he says morale is at an all-time low in his home country.

Ukraine has been fighting Russian forces for nearly four months. Russia’s latest military offensive is seeing troops fighting in the east of Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians have lost their lives.

“As long as Russia stays on Ukrainian territory, this war will continue. We need to get the Russians out of Ukraine, free the nation of Russian occupation and then we will be free.”

Vasyl Myroshnychenko

The ambassador is seeking to hold talks with Australian lawmakers on the current situation. He says more lethal aid and economic assistance is essential.

President Zelensky speaks to Australia’s Parliament.

President Zelensky has invited Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Ukraine. Meanwhile, leaders from France, Germany and Italy travelled to the war-torn nation on Thursday, where they toured regions that have been decimated.

“I think that’s it’s very important that the world hears Ukraine, the world steps in, because that can solve energy issues that can solve the food crisis,” Myroshnychenko told TICKER NEWS.

Trade on the horizon

A bilateral trade deal between Australia and Ukraine could be on the horizon. The deal would reportedly be modelled on the U.K. free trade agreement.

“My role is to mobilise more support for Ukraine and Australia, I will soon be credited to New Zealand as well,” Myroshnychenko says.

Vasyl Myroshnychenko says he hopes President Putin dies.

Myroshnychenko studied international trade at the London School of Economics. He says additional military might is needed urgently.

“My job is to get more military assistance, more financial assistance for Ukraine. But every Ukrainian no matter what he or she is doing, is able to contribute either on social media, either fighting in the trenches, or doing the work they are doing to help Ukraine become stronger,” he says.

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