One year after Capitol Hill turmoil, ‘Biden failed to heal America from Trump’s shadow’
Daily cases increase breaks 1 million in two consecutive days; ‘US systemic failure exposed’
Published: Jan 06, 2022 12:17 AM
The US set a global record with over 1 million COVID-19 daily cases on Jan 3, one year after the country reached its last peak in single-day cases in 2021, days after the Capitol riots.

The US set a global record with over 1 million COVID-19 daily cases on Jan 3, one year after the country reached its last peak in single-day cases in 2021, days after the Capitol riots.

 Just one year ago, Capitol Hill in Washington, DC was stormed by supporters of former US president Donald Trump, yet the US continues to suffer from the failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and the endless struggle between left and right, or red and blue, with many Americans and even observers worldwide believing they attached too much hope on the new Democrats' administration led by President Joe Biden to fix the problems and clean up the mess.

One year later, the daily increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US topped 1 million on two consecutive days from Monday to Tuesday. The Capitol, which was wracked by riots and casualties one year ago, is now facing a new headache caused by surging cases amid the spread of the Omicron variant. The attending physician of the Capitol on Monday urged US congressional offices to shift toward remote work due to a skyrocketing coronavirus positivity rate among staff, US media reported.

Analysts said this proves that the serious problems in the US amid the pandemic and social polarization cannot be fixed by political leaders. It is not about Trump or Biden, Democrats or Republicans, it is due to the dysfunction of the whole system, the "democratic system" that US elites and Americans used to be so proud of and even tried to sell to other countries around the globe. 

The systemic failure is caused by multiple elements, and includes political struggles between the two parties, anti-intellectual debates about wearing facial masks and taking vaccines, and the incompatibility between state and federal authorities. Adding to the mix is the extreme individualism and liberalism that deeply course through the US society and every single American, said experts. They noted that the disappointing situation in the US is not just a disaster for the Biden administration, but will also bring great uncertainty to the world.

Shocking increase  

The new daily tally brings the total number of cases confirmed in the US since the start of the pandemic to 57,063,456. In total, the virus has caused at least 830,284 deaths across the country.

Some epidemiologists have already predicted that the US would soon exceed 1 million infections and break the daily record soon after the Christmas and New Year holidays, as many Americans relaxed social distancing by having family gatherings, reunions and festival celebrations, many without wearing masks. 

While many Americans believe the Omicron resurgence is now worse than severe flu, Chen Xi, an assistant professor of public health at Yale University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that although the rate at which the variant causes illness is relatively low with mild symptoms, the disease is not like flu at all as coronavirus weighs on hospitals and medical resources. "If hospital resources are overwhelmed, the outcome could be disastrous," Chen said. 

Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that although most scientists worldwide refuse to downplay the harms of Omicron and are urging governments to keep alert and cautious, some US politicians and media are trying to convince their people that the virus is just like the flu because they prioritize economic data instead of the lives and public health of the people.

"China has proved a balance could be maintained between normal economic activities and an effective and strict policy for epidemic prevention and control. For people in China, we can't imagine what would happen if China had a 1 million daily increase, and scholars who study the US like me are worried about what is happening in the US," he said.

Systemic failure

Many US and international observers, as well as many mainstream media in the West, believe that the failure of epidemic control and prevention in the US was Trump's fault, and the US gave the Biden administration a whole year to prove that changing the leadership of the country can cure the illness for America and rebuild confidence in its democracy, but they eventually found they are wrong, said Chinese analysts. 

"It's neither Biden nor Trump's problem alone, it's the problem of the US democratic system. When the Biden administration wants to implement many correct policies across the country, some states ruled by Republicans refuse to cooperate," Lü said. "So without a unified policy from the federal to state governments, how can a big country like the US effectively overcome a challenge like the pandemic?" 

"Biden hoped to push forward vaccination and mask mandates, for example, but federal judges block them, making those polices hard to implement," Chen of Yale University said. 

Since an overwhelming sense of individualism prevails in the US, it is almost impossible that Americans will accept a return to strict lockdowns or more restrictions like in the early stages of the outbreak, which is a reality Biden has to face, Chen noted.

Another problem is both Trump and Biden had placed too much hope on vaccines and treatments, as they believe this is the easiest way to fix everything immediately. There is a lack of issuing and implementing long-standing and effective policies to keep the number of confirmed cases at a low level. It reveals that US politicians have not enough respect for the science and the lives of their people, said Lü, adding that the extreme individualism, racism and liberalism are also making American society vulnerable in the pandemic.

Disappointing polls

With the impacts from endless political struggles and surging confirmed cases amid Omicron spreading, US people are getting increasingly worried and disappointed. According to two polls published recently, many Americans are deeply concerned about their democracy and about one-third of the surveyed said violence against the government can sometimes be justified, AFP reported on Sunday. 

And pride among Americans in their democracy also dropped sharply, from 90 percent to 54 percent, the report said, citing a survey conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland.

The CBS News poll released on Sunday found that 68 percent of respondents said thatthey believe the Capitol Hill riot was "a sign of increasing political violence in the country," and 62 percent of respondents believe that there will be violence again in future presidential elections. Only 38 percent believe that the "losing side will concede peacefully."

It is not only Americans that feel disappointed about their own democracy, the Chinese public have also changed their views toward the US democracy in 2021. Concerning the attitude toward US-defined democracy, freedom and human rights, 65.5 percent of Chinese respondents showed disapproval or lower approval of the US concept, according to the Global Times annual survey. Among them, 10.8 percent of respondents changed their attitude from approval to disapproval.  

Lü said that future elections, whether the midterms in 2022 or the presidential election in 2024, are likely to see violent incidents and mass unrest, and if the US experiences this kind of trouble it will spread great uncertainty to the world. "We do have reason to be worried," Lü noted.