Big Issue Vendor

Biden is brightness for the US. The UK’s light will come too

Things feel more much positive than they did just a few weeks ago
Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president today. Image credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

It would have been useful to get some warnings about the weeping.

When those of us (men, I mean) reach a certain age, I now understand there is a latent trigger that is pressed. And after it’s gone, tears come easily; frequently they flood, ridiculously.

Obviously, there are good times to well up – the success of your children growing and staking their independence as they find their own way in the world; your dog greeting you after it gets a post-operation neck-cone off; a curled goal to the top corner, from outside the box; a piece of great music that lodges deep within you. The quality control is a little off, though. Why get red-eyed and sniffy when there’s a positive resolution in Grand Designs (‘the windows fit – LOOK… THEY FIT!’)?

This tap readily leaks. It needs attention.

Being Irish and increasingly sentimental about Ireland, (the expat’s privilege), watching Joe Biden become American president and hearing his frequent quotations of Irish poetry, I’m barely dry-eyed just now. As he took office last week I was like a drunk uncle at a wedding, strutting round the house shouting about JFK and the Irish returning and insisting the family quickly learn vast sections of Door Into The Dark.

By the time Lin-Manuel Miranda got to the hope and history line in his reading of Heaney’s The Cure at Troy I was a blubbering mess. Fear of cliché and easy cynicism have no hold on me now!

It’s beyond the poetry, of course. Biden is brightness. While Trump seeded a global malignancy, Joe, in the autumn of his time, is moving at pace to preserve things, in the right way, for those who come next.

There is much to do. But things feel more much positive than they did just a few weeks ago.

The fact that he immediately signed up America again to the Paris Accord to work to defeat climate change, while Trump apologist Ted Cruz raged that this was all very well for Parisians but not anybody else, says everything about what the world has left and what we now look forward to.

The issue of readying for tomorrow is one that has been in the forefront of The Big Issue’s mind for some time. Big Issue founder John Bird and Green MP Caroline Lucas’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill had been due to get another reading in Parliament this week.

This was to be the latest step in the attempt to enshrine in law future thinking in Parliamentary decision-making. It was to allow smart, preventative means to stop crises of poverty or of the environment from getting so big they can’t be challenged. In the language that has been used around this, it was to make us better ancestors.

The bill won’t be read. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, citing a need to meet tighter Covid restrictions, stopped sittings in Parliament on a Friday when Private Member’s Bills, as the Future Generations Bill is, are usually debated.

But that doesn’t stop things moving forward. There is a growing agitation coming from younger people to really make things happen. We hear from some of them in the magazine this week, and we celebrate them with the fantastic cover.

There is much to do. But things feel much more positive than they did just a few weeks ago. It’s enough to make me weep.

Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue