Trump amplified polarization, US society close to a civil war

TEHRAN, Nov. 08 (MNA) – Stating that polarization has been amplified by Trump, Prof. Frank von Hippel believes that Biden is very conscious of how close to a civil war the American society came.

Yesterday, while Donald Trump was at his golf course, some US media outlet announced that Democrat Joe Biden has been chosen as the 46th US president with receiving more than 270 Electoral College votes required for the White House.

Biden has said he is “honoured and humbled” by the projected victory. 

Following this announcement, Donald Trump has repeated voting fraud claims and said Biden is “rushing to falsely pose as the winner”.

Issuing a statement, Trump said, “We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media."

His statement indicated that he is not ready to accept his electoral defeat. 

On the other hand, many believe that the growing polarization of the United States into a nation is one of the legacies of the Trump presidency.

To know more about the result of the US Presidential Election in the American society, we reached out to Professor Frank von Hippel, an American theoretical physicist, and a Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

As you know, in recent days, we have been witnessing a confrontation between the opponents and the supporters of Donald Trump. One of the damages of Trump's presidency was the polarization of American society. How will this affect American society in the long run?

The polarization has been amplified by Trump but also by Facebook and Twitter and the other social media that have made it possible to spread conspiracy theories much more rapidly than before. All societies need to grapple with how these media are designed to hold their users’ attention by amplifying their passions rather than by encouraging them to learn more.  Wikipedia provides an inspiring alternative model.
 
Biden is very conscious of how close to a civil war we came and is trying to talk us back from the brink by telling us that we are not each other’s enemies. We are fellow citizens and must work together to solve our problems.

Will American society witness more destructive actions by Trump in the rest period of his presidency?

I worry about this because Trump’s entire presidency has been so nihilistic and sociopathic.
 
Trump’s entire presidency has been so nihilistic and sociopathicBut, even though he may be having difficulty accepting that he will be out of power on the afternoon of January 20, I think most of the people around him are accepting it and I hope career officials will refuse to execute irrational actions that cannot easily be reversed like waging a war in the Middle East.

These days, we see the US highest official, Trump, is talking about election fraud. What do you think about his remarks? Hasn't these remarks damaged the position of US democracy and its credibility?

Trump’s remarks have been damaging to his followers’ faith in democracy. But his followers already appeared to be ready to embrace fascism. I am grateful so few of them have gone over the edge into violence and I hope that, if they see some benefits out of a Biden Administration, their faith in democracy will be strengthened.
 
Trump’s remarks have been damaging to his followers’ faith in democracy. But his followers already appeared to be ready to embrace fascismIt appears likely that the Senate will remain in Republican hands – although there is a remote possibility that Georgia will elect two Senators in the runoff election in January, which would result in a 50-50 balance in which Vice President Harris would be the deciding vote.
 
If this does not happen, Biden may not be able to do the big domestic reforms some of us feel are needed – as President Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 1930s. 
 
But, we have been saved, for now at least, from descending further into a pit of horrors and must work to do the best we can to improve the prospects for the United States and for the World.
 
In terms of foreign policy, the president has many opportunities for executive initiatives. I expect Biden Administration will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and also the JCPOA, if Iran comes back into compliance, and extend the New START nuclear-arms-limitation agreement with Russia.
 
New treaties will probably be impossible in the near term because of the two thirds Senate vote required for ratification. Some Congressional actions will also be difficult to reverse.
 
But I hope that Iran finally will see substantial benefits from the JCPOA and that we can make it a foundation for a Persian Gulf Nuclear Weapon Free Zone as the next step toward a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Professor Frank von Hippel was the Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He now serves on the National Advisory Board of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the research arm of Council for a Livable World.

Interview by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan

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