The US has always had bits so horrifying that too close a look could leave your face permanently frozen in horror. When I was growing up in a relatively enlightened Massachusetts in the 1980s and 1990s, there was the spectre of police brutality and racism – you couldn’t miss it, from park benches in Boston where black men were hassled and taunted to the casual, unprofessional menace of the local force.
But if the police are more woke than racist in 2024, oh how the horror has grown and multiplied on other fronts. Last week a man on death row in Alabama was executed by nitrogen gas. And the death penalty, a measure no civilised state has had for decades, isn’t going anywhere. Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida’s ex-presidential hopeful, used the promise of more capital punishment to lure voters through a “tough on crime” stance, with the state of Florida in 2023 executing more people than at any time since 2019.
Opioid addiction is out of control. Abortion rights at the federal level were overturned in 2022, instantly triggering their savage removal in 21 states, most of which have implemented total bans and criminalisation of anyone seen to aid and abet terminations. Horrendous, entirely predictable stories of desperate pregnant women nearly dying thanks to the scrapping of Roe v Wade have kept coming. It’s Handmaid’s Tale stuff.
But there’s more. Much more. And it’s all worsened under the man who was meant to save America from the cartoonish parallel universe of crudeness, relentless bombast, stupidity and criminality represented by Trump and his fanboys. Under Joe Biden, despite a marked increase in civility and experience, domestic problems are worse than ever. America has become an archipelago of darkness and chaos, and it’s at breaking point.
Unless Biden goes, or morphs into someone else – which he won’t – Trump is certainly next, with civil war and the end of the Republic as we know it as possible results. After all, the would-be president has said he would try to alter the constitution so he could stay in power indefinitely.
It all could have been avoided. Had Hillary Clinton not been felled by the spread of conspiracy theory and her failure to take Trump seriously, things could have been better for America, and the world, since 2016.
Instead, they have been worse and worse, under Trump and now under the fatal figure of Biden, wisened and doddery to the degree that even those of us who want to credit him with good work over a long life of service can’t help but quail and clutch our heads.
Under Biden’s watch, America’s migration mess has turned nightmarish. The US is fundamentally a country of immigrants, and it ought to have an outward facing, open attitude towards newcomers. But that doesn’t mean it should simply let in millions who fancy a go, not all of whom are hardworking migrants desperate to do their best.
This week, thanks to a dramatic standoff between the Texas governor Greg Abbott and Biden’s government over illegal migration, a glaring neon light has been shone on the severity of the problem. Abbott, whose aggressive stance is supported by two dozen other Republican governors who have thanked him for “stepping up to protect American citizens”, has installed razor wire along a 30-mile stretch of the border (which the Supreme Court has disallowed), ordered the installation of floating barriers in the Rio Grande river (ditto), and detained thousands of “illegals” on trespassing charges (again, ditto).
He has also been bussing migrants by the thousands to liberal soft-touch cities like New York and Chicago where they have created chaos, danger and disruption by drawing on resources and populations completely unprepared for them.
Many feel that their rights as tax-paying residents are entirely superseded by those of the new arrivals.
I am reasonably pro-immigration, and think migrants from anywhere and everywhere can revitalise a country. But it matters who they are. Are they do-gooders or do-badders? Are they looking to be grateful and work hard in their new home, or to exploit and harm it? These problems are dogging Britain and they are dogging America, where the stakes could not be higher.
As former FBI top dogs Kevin Brock and Chris Swecker wrote in a recent letter to the Speaker of the House and chairs of the Committees of Intelligence and Homeland Security: “In modern history the US has never suffered an invasion of the homeland and, yet, one is unfolding now… It would be difficult to overstate the danger represented by the presence inside our borders of what is comparatively a multi-division army of young single adult males from hostile nations and regions whose background, intent or allegiance is completely unknown.”
Quite. But geopolitically as well as domestically, Biden has been too busy cutting off America’s nose to spite its face to have done anything much about it.
While his handling of Ukraine and Israel has been fairly sophisticated, he hastened to sweet-talk Iran into more talks about its nuclear ambitions – a fool’s errand given how the evil regime is repaying him in the Red Sea and beyond. He has sent huge aid packages to Gaza since taking office, where according to some reports it promptly went into the hands of Hamas terrorists and helped fuel the October 7 attacks.
The American nightmare is worsening by the day. So long as Biden remains in post, the world is guaranteed at least four more years of Trump, and that is a future that is as tragic as it is frightening for a country that some of us once loved.
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