We are still more than a month away from the change of powers in the United States, which takes place every four years at noon on January 20, and it is already possible to perceive the smells and colors of the approaching change in the environment.
It is a change that can be seen in the new tone – serious, measured, reflective – of the public discourse of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris about the great pending challenges of the immediate future: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and racial justice.
It is also a visible change in the face of her cabinet, which more accurately resembles the racial and ethnic mosaic of the United States.
For the first time a Latino will be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Mexican-American Xavier Becerra, and another will be the Director of National Security, the Cuban-American Alejandro Mayorkas. Among his first circle of collaborators, an unprecedented number of women stand out, many of them, women of color and daughters of migrants, and an African-American was nominated for the first time as Secretary of Defense.
But beneath the surface and from the faces, it is clear that a new order of public policy priorities is looming, with a new emphasis on tackling the structural inequalities that affect the most vulnerable among us, including our minorities.
In her first message as the first woman to be nominated for Secretary of the Treasury, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spoke of the disproportionate impact that the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis have had on the poorest, with loss of life, jobs, businesses and of the difficulties to cover the cost of the mortgage or the rent.
For her part, the one appointed by the president to occupy the Office of Programming and Budget of the White House, Neera Tanden, daughter of immigrants from India, referred to the strategic importance that social programs play in opening opportunities for improvement for millions of low-income people.
I agree with those who believe that the common thread of the words and designations of Joe Biden’s next government is the fight against income inequality that has generated a series of chronic distortions, obviously exposed by the pandemic, with a balance tragic for the most vulnerable population.
Recent polls show that the African-American and Latino communities have the highest levels of distrust of the government, leading to questions about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. May these winds of change and a consistent and egalitarian health policy help allay fears and mistrust at a time when restoring it is more important than ever.
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