Joe Biden exudes ambition and a thirst for success. The times when the US stood for poor handling of Corona are a thing of the past.
The new US president used his first major televised address on Friday night not only for the expected rhetorical victory round to celebrate the legislative success in Congress: the passage of the corona aid package worth 1.9 trillion dollars after weeks of wrestling with his own party and the Democrats.
Biden gave a typical American “Let’s do it!” Speech with the message: We can do it, we can do it.
The USA has already vaccinated around 20 percent of its 331 million inhabitants at least once, three times as large as in Germany. Everyone should have the opportunity by May.
On Independence Day, July 4th, the nation is said to be vaccinated enough that families and friends can celebrate together as usual, typically with a barbecue in the garden. “This is the beginning of independence from this virus,” advertises Biden. According to surveys, 69 percent want to be vaccinated; only 15 percent are strictly against this.
Again Uncle Sam recruits the whole nation: I need you
The President mixed a direct address with familiar language images of political-religious rhetoric in the USA. Like Uncle Sam on the famous US Army recruitment poster, he leaned towards his audience: “I need you!”
In a national show of strength, he would like to mobilize the whole nation for the project: in addition to citizens who are willing to vaccinate and the regular vaccination staff, also dentists, ophthalmologists, midwives and even veterinarians. Anyone who wants to help should get to work: not only in clinics and other medical centers, but also in drugstore chains, community centers, stadiums, and makeshift drive-in stations. An “all together” instead of Trump’s “me alone”.
Biden appears like his predecessors Franklin D. Roosevelt, who gave the “Fellow Americans” courage via radio speeches during the economic crisis, and John F. Kennedy, who directed national resources and human energies towards the goal of moon landing. He interwoven the biblical metaphor of light and dark twice in his half-hour speech: “Finding light in the dark is perhaps the most American thing we can do right now.”
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What a difference political leaders, communication with society and the consistent use of their organizational reserves can make. A year ago, the United States under Donald Trump – but also Great Britain under Boris Johnson – were considered examples among Western democracies that were not able to fight the pandemic. China’s rigorous but effective strategy raised the question of whether authoritarian regimes can cope better with the challenge than open societies.
When it comes to vaccination, the US is overtaking China and Russia
In the meantime, it is no longer primarily a question of the restrictions on freedom of movement and economic freedom, but of the ability to quickly test and vaccinate many people, i.e. research and the ability to quickly apply its results in everyday life, to production and organization. The examples that were frightening back then have become role models. In third and fourth place in the international vaccination statistics are Great Britain (30 percent) and the USA (20 percent), followed by Israel (over 80 percent) and the United Emirates (over 50 percent).
China and Russia are far behind, although they have their own vaccines and production facilities and are not dependent on imports. But Russia uses “Sputnik” more to increase its influence abroad than to protect its own people.
The USA proves its leading position in the pharmaceutical industry. They have three approved vaccines made in the country: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson. You have a leadership that puts pragmatic optimism over risk aversion and mobilizes the population instead of raising objections and concerns about how reliable vaccination in drive-in makeshifts might be.