China-U.S. relations have never been easy
Tom Watkins
Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 5, 2020. /Getty Images

Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 5, 2020. /Getty Images

Editor's note: Tom Watkins is an international educational and business consultant who has worked for over four decades building cultural, educational, and economic bridges between the U.S. and China. He is a former Michigan state superintendent of schools and former president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Florida. The article reflects the author's views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

American journalist and author Evan Osnos, best known for his coverage of politics and U.S. and China foreign affairs, reminds us that simply because the U.S. has been No. 1 in the world does not give us the God-given, pre-ordained right to stay there. Being a world leader entails not a right but a responsibility. One that must be earned every day.

Osnos discusses "the most basic stories we tell ourselves" – stories that habitually declare the U.S. as exceptional, uniquely virtuous – "entitled" to pre-eminence. 

Yet if you believe this as truth, how then to explain how "the world's richest, most powerful country" been laid bare by our now global Black Lives Matter Movement? Certainly a reminder that our nation was built on slavery even as the U.S. constitution proclaimed "all men are created equal?" We lecture about universal human rights even as need reminding of our own history: Japanese internment camps during WWII, the Chinese Exclusionary Act even after they had built America's transcontinental railroad. The genocide of America's first native people whose land we stole in order to expand the young nation and grab the natural resources. Denial of women's right to vote LONG after some states and other countries had moved in the right direction.

Yes, the United States is far from perfect. But what gives us hope is regular elections that enable us to fix our mistakes and move the country forward. U.S. elections are Americans' way of hitting the reset button – the artery through which American ideals, freedom, and democracy flow. 

Finding Joe when you need him

Osnos has written a biography about President-elect Joe Biden. As I read the book, I thought how Joe Biden's life mimics that of many Americans – never an easy journey. 

Like the history of the United States, Osnos points out that Biden has been called both the luckiest man in the world AND the unluckiest. He is fortunate to have sustained a 50-year political career that reaches the White House, marked along the way with deep personal tragedy – losses, disappointments and suffering. As Biden has been shaped by everyday life, he has also been empowered by a willingness – rare in the top ranks of politics – to confront his shortcomings, errors, and reversals of fortune.

As Biden reminds himself and the American people, "Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable." Osnos concludes Biden's trials have forged in him a deep empathy for others in hardship—an essential quality as he addresses Americans now in our nation's most dire hours of need. America has fallen and risen throughout its history – we are again at that point. 

Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 9, 2020. /AP

Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 9, 2020. /AP

Roadblocks and 'dictator moves'

Yet as President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris begin the transition to power, President Trump's behavior remains petulant, disgraceful, anti-democratic and un-American. Soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, his corrupt allies, and GOP enablers want Americans to believe that massive voter fraud played a role in Biden's election. There is just one problem with this conspiracy theory: absolutely no evidence, NONE! The truth is widespread: voter fraud in America is myth spread by Trump. Lies are not votes. Delusions are not votes. Conspiracy theories are not votes. They are not votes under any sane or democratic process. 

Every day that Trump and his merry band of enablers deny reality and Biden's victory, they are attacking the very core of our democracy. 

To be clear, Trump's delusional thinking won't keep him in office. Yet it is causing collateral and perhaps lasting damage to America's place in the world. 

It is past time to end this madness. It is time for American and its allies to rally around President-elect Biden's vision to "build back America better."

Trump's irresponsible response to the global pandemic has both shamed and laid bare U.S. failure in the eyes of the world. Trump and his GOP enablers' denial of reality and delusional conspiracy theories about losing the presidency to Joe Biden have made America look like a Banana Republic.

CNN reported that Trump is making "dictator moves" in his attempt to hold onto power after losing the presidential election. They point out that the Trump administration has the characteristics of a tottering regime with its loyalty tests, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, deepening bunker mentality, and increasingly delusional claims of political victory.

Trump turds

This is a long period to trust a man-child like Trump with his hands still on the reins of power between now and Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021. I fear Trump will start trouble and lay long-term land mines on his way out. We are now witnessing the Trump administration dropping turds in the punch bowl around U.S.-China relations as they exit the White House. Their collective goal is to taint the geopolitical relations between the U.S. and China so thoroughly that sensible collaboration and coordination between our two nations will be made more difficult for the Biden administration. Their actions are part of a strategic initiative – expect the rhetoric to heat up in the final weeks of the Trump administration.

Getting along will not be easy

Biden's election raises hopes and doubts about China. Resetting sour relations between the world's two great powers will not be easy or perhaps even totally possible. Yet for the people of China, the U.S., and all of humanity it is a worthy goal. 

America has problems. Not unlike other nations of the world, we are both a flawed and exceptional nation. I expect President Biden may take lines from Deng Xiaoping and cross the river by feeling for the stones and consult with both the white cat and black cat as he helps us become a more perfect union.

Arise! Arise! Arise! 

No one should count America out. We are convulsing with mass anxiety as we await a rational election reckoning and new beginning – the normal process of change in America.

The Trump era, now coming to an end, reminds us of the truth in that famous quote from Winston Churchill: "Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …"

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