The U.S. has become the top economic power after WW I (1920). After WW II, the U.S. has become one of the two superpowers in the world militarily (1950). By 1990, the U.S. has won the Cold War collapsing the Soviet Union and become the only superpower in the world having the greatest economy and military might. Being at the top of the world, if not sustainable, the only outcome is coming down. In the 21st century, the world has become more competitive, mostly economical out of human desire of ever living in better condition which depends on economical development. But the world also has become more competitive militarily which is not naturally related to human desires (don't like war) but more driven by an unproven political theory that military power is necessary for sustaining a strong economy. In thousands of years of human history, the great economies did not always come with or from the strongest military power. Take the recent history of 18 to 19th century, China was the greatest economy in the world, but never was the strongest military power more to the contrary.
China’s demise in that period of course did not prove that a nation had to have a strong military before achieving a strong economy. It also did not logically prove that any nation with strong economy had to die, if there were no invasive colonialism and imperialism at play. Humans learned from history that for a peaceful world, they must abandon colonialism and imperialism. Post WW II, they did abandon colonialism, with a little reluctance perhaps but it was overcome by International Justice as evidenced by the effectiveness of the U.N. in fighting colonialism. However, Although in WW II, the Imperial Germany and Japan were both defeated by the allies, but imperialism was not wiped out at all but disguised and transformed. The division of Germany and the occupation of Japan by the U.S. led the transformation. Hence, there were the Soviet Union-Warsaw Pact and the U.S.-NATO engaging in military competition driven by hidden imperialism.
Post Cold War, the world economy was accelerated which benefited the large population of the world, a good thing! A strong world economy means rigorous trades among nations; competition is naturally occurring among nations. Competition in economic arena stimulates material and resource exploration, advanced technology development, manufacturing improvements and transportation and distribution efficiency, all contributing to improved human living condition. Some countries benefitted from resource sharing, some benefited from low-cost goods and some benefited from technology and capital imports or exports. Of course, competition may produce frictions and conflicts which need to be resolved through world body such as World Trade Organization (WTO) and other world monetary and financial organizations.
In the first of two decades in the 21st century, we witnessed the rapid rise of China in her economy. In relative sense, the U.S. did not fare very well especially suffered from a financial crisis in 2008 caused by a housing bubble busted by the highly leveraged and traded mortgage backed security, MBS, and related financial instruments. The U.S. economy was gradually transformed away from manufacturing mainly due to labor cost and moving into ‘financial engineering’, a term to include all kinds of ingenious financial products including IPO (initial product offering through stock market) which pushed capitals towards so called ‘high tech’ ventures. It is no surprise that the U.S. lost many low-tech manufacturing jobs and industries to the other rising economies thus becoming dependent on low-cost imports raking up a big trade deficit.
The U.S. 2016 presidential election was a wake-up call to the above problems, Donald Trump blamed the declining U.S. economy especially unemployment on previous Administration's policies and severe foreign competition and won the election as a dark mustang by pounding on the slogans, ‘America First’ and ‘Make America Great Again’. He ran his presidency honoring those slogans as his mandate. He raised tariffs against the U.S. trade partners, particularly targeting China expanding the trade war to technology war and an all out anti-China movement trying to organize the U.S. allies to stop China’s growth. There was nothing wrong with the slogans, but Trump’s Administration alienated the world as well as domestically by bluntly practicing unilateralism in trade deals and other international engagement. He pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Accord, withdrew from WTO and alienated the U.N. including WHO regarding his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bipartisan divide has a long history but it got worse in 2016 when the Democrats denied Trump’s legitimate victory over Hillary Clinton. The impeachment against Trump cleaved that divide deeper. It is entirely fair to call the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ‘the nation divider’, judging on what she has done in her Speaker position not only against Trump, the Republicans, but also the nation. Delaying the relief fund for rescuing the pandemic impact on the nation’s economy is just one example.
If Joe Biden became the President, would the U.S. be united again? Yes, she may but Biden must make a number of correct moves to heal the divide. It is not enough to exhibit a mild personality or return to a conventional diplomatic practice. Biden needs to understand and accept several facts that divide the U.S. First, Biden must heal the bipartisan divide which is best done by personnel changes. First, accepting Pelosi’s words of serving only four years; get another Speaker, a healer who can recognize the change and dynamics of the new Congress. Second, Biden must coach Harris to function appropriately as a 'unifier' to get dividends in the still Republican controlled Senate. Third, it is advisable to pick a respectable Republican for the Secretary of State and/or the Secretary of Defense, for example, inviting James Mattis back or keeping Mark Esper but not Mike Pompeo who has clearly contributed to the divison of the U.S. His speech at the Nixon Library tore apart the Nixon legacy which was the central pillar for transforming communism and eventually leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As a common citizen, one can only cite the above exemplary suggestions as personal opinions but the central theme to make the U.S. united again goes beyond personal opinion but more like a mandate from a majority of voters. In the 2020 election, the US-China relation had become an unusual election issue. Trump’s anti-China policy, whether being strategic or tactic, is a China as well as a U.S. divider. Just look at the division of Chinese Americans in voting blocks in 2020 presidential election, some fiercely supported Trump and some rigorously supported Biden. You may think the Chinese American voting blocks are small and inconsequential, absolutely not. This divisive force propagates in American society, not only among Chinese, Asians, Hispanic, black, and white Americans, but also having influence internationally with no beneficial results. So playing China card to divide China (and Taiwan) is dividing Chinese Americans (see the Taiwan lobbying) and US citizens (see the election donation split on issues). This is simply because China is no more a threat to the U.S. than the U.S. is to China. Both the American people and the Chinese people understand that. It is ludicrous to divide Chinese people from their government as Pompeo fantasized (just as ludicrous to say Biden government is totally separated from Republican voters). The Chinese government happens to enjoy more approval rating (77%) than most western countries get from their people.
Will the U.S. be united again? I hope so and believe it will for the sake of the American people and the world. Likewise, Dividing China is not in the best interest of the U.S., China nor the world. Any US President should bear this in mind: Trying to divide another nation which also divides the U.S. can not be a right US policy.