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For a Post-Nationalist Biden

America can lead a global turn away from nationalism if it actively engages with the world once again, and not only out of self-interest. To make the world a better place requires President-elect Joe Biden to set his sights higher than America.

ITHACA – The first step in establishing an authoritarian culture in a country is to train its citizens to misread statistics. This is actually not hard to do; the rest is smooth sailing. Luckily for the United States, President Donald Trump will leave the White House in January before the curriculum could be completed.

To be sure, the Trump administration’s handling of the statistics and science of the COVID-19 pandemic severely harmed people’s health and the economy. But President-elect Joe Biden is expected to reverse many of Trump’s follies and foibles and boost the economy – starting with helping those on the bottom rungs of the income ladder, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

But as this dismal year draws to a close, I want to dwell on a larger and harder task facing Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. With his narcissism and hyper-nationalism, Trump has not only polarized America, but also fueled right-wing authoritarianism around the world. And his supporters’ identification with him has spawned an obsession with material wealth to the neglect of basic human decency, empathy, and the environment, along with a xenophobic disdain for the “other” that should have no place in our globalized world.

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