IO – The election of the President of the United States this time is a rare, fierce and at the same time tense event, because of the surprises. Rare, because this particular political event took place in an atmosphere of the Global Covid-19 Pandemic. The world public can see how the contestants fight for the attention and acceptance of the voters. This process is a message in itself, especially to see which contestants are more concerned about the health of citizens, and have the intention to avoid making the campaign a new cluster for the spread of Covid-19. More than just a campaign model, the steps were taken by the contestants can reflect the vision of public service and the will to put public safety as a political priority.
The competition is so fierce, the eyes of the world were following the whole counting process. Observers or those who routinely carry out surveys are forced to use all their intelligence and data to explain what is going on, especially explaining how tight the votes are. Finally, from the calculation results, it is known that Biden-Harris outperformed TrumpPence. The incumbent may reject the result, but it is the same result that shows that change is taking place. The political and legal process is still possible to challenge, but it is difficult to deny the fact that the people of the United States have made a decision and now the time has come for Biden-Harris.
While there might have been suggestions that Biden-Harris would excel, the results that came out were a real surprise to the world. Why? Because if a distance is taken in viewing the regular contestation events, it will appear that the contestation is also a very important battle of ideas. There are at least two important ideas that stand out, namely: (1) the idea of equal opportunity, and which means a common living space, where each element of society has the right to develop equally; and (2) the idea of unity, in the sense of exercising politics based on “common sense”, state propriety and not politics with sentiment, which always has the potential to become firewood for division and violence.
Compliance and equality
Every nation and state can be said to have the same basic interest in managing common life where every citizen can live as an independent human being who gets his basic freedom while at the same time not neglecting other freedoms through fair public rules. This means that in this shared living space, every citizen, without exception, gets the same opportunity to optimize all of his potentials so that he can appear as a whole human being. We know that the nation’s efforts to bring about this situation are not easy, full of struggle and often face major challenges, which not only want to thwart this goal but also make the state a living space for a small number of citizens and ignore or even get rid of others.
An election is perhaps a historical moment for a nation to determine its future, at least for a short time. We call it a historical moment because during that period, the nation seems to be in a deliberative forum, to on the one hand provide an evaluation of the government’s journey and on the other hand, to try to determine a route forward, or what should be achieved. There will inevitably be a possibility of correction, namely an assessment that what has been going on is seen as something that is not only not worth defending but may be considered dangerous for the survival of the nation. If what is going on is considered successful or is going according to expectations, then, of course, the incumbent will get a second chance. However, if it fails, or has been deemed deviant, then not only will the person not get the opportuni-
ty but all the ideas and development strategies taken will no longer have a place.
With this perspective, we will be able to see a scene that contains a very strong and visionary contestation of thoughts. First, the appearance of Joe Biden, as a “senior” character, with a performance that is “calm”, not explosive, and puts forward “appropriateness”; it is a separate idea, which within certain limits, can be said as an alternative idea, for ongoing political thoughts and behavior (read: the incumbent). Biden can be called a representation of “maturity”, or an attitude that is guided by wisdom, a more thorough calculation, and puts the national interest (in a deep sense) in the right position. Biden being so senior in age is not intended as a form of neglect of the interests of regeneration, but rather a desire to restore what is considered to be absent, namely, propriety and the use of politics to unify.
Second, the appearance of Kamala Harris, a black woman, daughter of an immigrant family, and South Asian descent, seems to be conveying a historical message that space for living together respects equal rights and opportunities. In the national family, all citizens are equal before the law and the state. When choosing, citizens must be aware that the choice they make will form a new history in state politics. What is seen as impossible is always likely to become possible. This means that the nomination can be seen as a form of historical communication, which wants to say that the opportunity is open to anyone because in the space of living together equality works. If this is true, then it will be easy to predict that this step is certainly a response to ongoing politics, which are increasingly hostile to differences, prioritizing one group and marginalizing other groups, and various expressions that do not prioritize equality.
Third, in his first speech, Biden said: “America has called upon us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness, to marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope and the great battles of our time, the battle to control the virus, the battle to build prosperity, the battle to secure your family’s healthcare, the battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country.” This speech can be interpreted as an expression of two things at once: (1) reaction to what is going on, which is considered no longer reflecting the calling of the nation; and
(2) what in the near term must be done, reversing or restoring the national identity and putting it as part of the journey of the American nation. It contained the main message, namely, the importance of maintaining a common house, to be able to serve all, without exception. “We must make the promise of the country real for everybody – no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability”. In another part, it was conveyed: “I am a proud Democrat, but I will serve as the President of the United States of America. I will work hard for those who did not vote for me as hard as for those who did vote for me,” said Biden.
The preamble to Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution clearly states that the Indonesian nation is not closed and isolated. We are a nation that is part of the family of nations around the world. This fact would like to emphasize that on the one hand, we must be aware that we have a responsibility to give something to the world, to create a world order that is just for all nations, and on the other hand, we should not hesitate to learn lessons from other nations’ experience, including the ongoing political process in America. Of course, it does not rule out that each of the candidates who competed in the 3 November 2020 Election will have their respective supporters in Indonesia. However, this fact does not need to be an extension of the political struggle in the country, but it would be good if it was used as a basis for common reflection, so that as a nation we get important lessons, for us to plan our steps forward. Therefore, the lessons do not start from political contestation, but rather reflect on what the citizens of the United States have decided, as the vote count shows.
First, as already mentioned above, we can see the desire to promote healthier politics. Politics is not an economic method, but politics is a noble activity that helps people and elevates the nation’s status. And contestation which is not just a place of
“contestation of votes”, but also as a moment of enlightenment, because it exhibits ideas that solve the basic problems of the nation and uses methods that are socially justified. Second, any political process that involves citizens should be a process that results in the strengthening of national cement, and not the other way around, namely, a process that produces divisive narratives. A nation that is not united and its unity is not getting stronger will not only form a destructive political ecosystem but will also prevent the nation from focusing the greatest energy to move history, to achieve the ideals of independence.
Apart from these two things, we can also see a strong will to keep democracy running healthily. It appears that democracy is not seen as a static state but as a “process” or as “action”. Therefore, a political process, such as an election, should not be a moment that destroys democracy; on the contrary, it attempts to be a moment that shows that if all are willing to submit to the rules of the game, where the rules of the game strictly comply with democratic principles, what will result is not only a stronger democracy, but also public leadership that understands their citizens, their problems, and deepest aspirations, and understands exactly how to lead a nation along its historical route.