US president Joe Biden speaking with British prime minister Boris Johnson at a Nato summit in Brussels on Monday. Photograph:  Olivier Matthys/POOL/EPA

US Politics: The UK’s approach to global norms and the logic of Brexit create distance

West Virginian senator Joe Manchin has more effective power than all but a handful of individuals in the US. Photograph: Al Drago/Bloomberg

The Democratic right may be out of favour – but it has a decisive say in running the country

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager in Miami, Florida. Photograph:  Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg

US Politics: Evidence suggests the nation’s bitter politics do not dictate social outcomes

U.S president Joe Biden is attempting cultural and economic reform simultaneously. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg

US Politics: There is only so much change a society will bear at one time

US president Joe Biden: Foreign affairs are where a president really is as powerful as the job’s outward grandeur suggests. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

US Politics: President’s approach signifies an authentic hardening of views on the centre-left

Then US president Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as the incumbent Republican senator Kelly Loeffler addresses a rally ahead of a Senate  runoff election  – which she lost – in Dalton, Georgia, on January 4th. Photograph:  Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The GOP has minimal incentive to change its ways after its slide into Trumpism

Florida governor Ron DeSantis runs one of America’s largest and most complex states to some, if not unanimous, acclaim. File photograph: Getty

US Politics: both sides are suited by the alleged rift between the GOP and big business

US consul general in Shanghai James Heller plays table tennis during a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Ping-pong diplomacy’,  in Shanghai on April 10th. Photograph: Hector Retamal/AFP

US Politics: An indefinite state of martial vigilance is more than unruly US can now bear

 US president Joe Biden speaks about a March jobs report, in the White House in Washington, DC, last week. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The left’s ideas are best served by those who appear to believe in them the least

US president Joe Biden: Can hardly operate a “democracies only” rule for local allies. Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Bloomberg

US Politics: Building an alliance that can stand up to China involves hard choices

Joe Biden  will grant his first official press conference on Thursday since assuming the US presidency in January. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

US Politics: President’s bold stratagem of unavailability has created a precious, calmer atmosphere

US President Joe Biden  comments  on the American Rescue Plan at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington DC, earlier this month.  Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool/EPA

US Politics: Test is whether Americans will accept higher taxes to make policies sustainable in the long term

A Trump supporter screams at President Joe Biden’s supporters outside the hotel where the Conservative Political Action Conference took place in Orlando, Florida last month. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Many blame Trump but there is nothing strange, or even new, about unfreedom

There are popular laws, beloved laws and President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty

US Politics: Tolerance of fiscal intervention now appears to be more or less open-ended

Migrants at the border in Tijuana, Mexico. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

US Politics: Sweeping plan can revive global migration at a hinge moment in history

Then US vice-president Joe Biden shakes hands with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing, 2013. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Pool/AFP via Getty

US Letter: Common purpose against a giant ‘other’ is what US has lacked for too long

US Senator Mitt Romney. Photograph: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty

US Politics: Denouncing Trump is brave but it is also the howlingly obvious way forward

British  prime minister Tony Blair  and chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown  listen as former US president Bill Clinton speaks via satellite link at a Labour Party election rally in 2005. Photograph: Martyn Hayhow/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The weakness of America’s welfare state gives Democrats a raison d’etre

US president Joe Biden: The next four years hinge on which is the truer Biden – the bold manifesto or the emollient tone. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

US Politics: There is no harmonious way to the kind of society Democrats wish to build

US president-elect Joe Biden speaking in New Castle, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

US Politics: The West needs a success story for its own morale as much as its outward reputation

US senator Lindsey Graham: found himself encircled and jeered. Photograph:   Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

US Politics: Republican moderates probably won’t prevail in battle for party’s soul

‘Radical laws and sharp ruptures from the status quo require either decisive majorities or support from the other side. A divided electorate allows for neither.’

Real winners from the age of divisive and partisan politics are those who hate it most

Shoppers wearing protective masks crowd Ameyoko Street in Tokyo, Japan, on December 28th. Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Politics: No governmental model has consistently outperformed its rivals against Covid-19

Supporters of US president Donald Trump at Freedom Plaza in Washington on December 12th. Photograph: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The events of 2020 showed the quiet resilience of the US system

A commencement ceremony at Yale University. Photograph: Getty Images.

US Politics: An academic blames ‘elite overproduction’ for breeding resentment in society

US president-elect Joe Biden: Must be careful not to set moral standards that can only be flunked.  Photograph:  Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Incoming president needs to avoid moral idealism that has cost the US dearly

President-elect Joe Biden: The urgency of beating Trump has kept the Democrats’ unstable compound of factions together in recent years. Without him, they are at liberty to squabble. Photograph: Andrew Harnik

US Politics: Biden must hold fractious party together and work for disparate groups

US president-elect Joe Biden:  Tends to see a bipartisan Washington as the natural order of things. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

President-elect’s aim is almost childlike in its innocence in a deeply partisan nation

Democratic candidate Joe Biden: Politics is now better understood as a high-stakes version of team sport than as the discursive ideal of the ancients. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg

US Politics: Deep dread as Trump stays resilient and electorally competitive

“Their number is negligible and they are stupid,” wrote Dwight D Eisenhower of those conservatives who could not reconcile themselves to the New Deal. They would grow beyond a thoughtless cult to become the organisational and intellectual core of the Republican Party. Photograph: Getty Images

US politics: If there is a future for the US right after Trump, it will have to resemble Ike’s benign statism

US president Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11th, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty

US politics: Still unclear what Trump wants to do with second term as election day looms

US president Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony upon returning to the White House from the Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/New York Times

US Politics: The American president’s faults are more libertarian than authoritarian

Joe Biden speaks during the first debate of the 2020 US presidential election in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Democratic candidate knows that voters prioritise the economy and healthcare over all else

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden: The corrective to an unhealthy trend in his party and country. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: After messianic Trump and Obama eras the US could do with less emotion

Joe Biden: An eerily stable frontrunner in first primary and then national polls. Photograph: Michelle V Agins/The New York Times

US Politics: With focus on law-and-order subtleties, Biden cannot focus on the Covid disaster

Kamala Harris: “Looking back, it is odd that such a fancied candidate did not do better in her own presidential campaign.”  Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Peculiarly blank canvas of Joe Biden’s running mate may be opportunity for Trump

President Donald Trump: “He is a strongman but not a strong man.” Photograph:  Andrew Harnik/AP

US Politics: It is the president’s lack of grip, rather than an iron fist, that has sunk his chances

Mike Pompeo: The rivalry with China seems personal. Photograph: Mads Claus Rasmussen/EPA

US Politics: President’s materialism is in contrast to moral imperatives of his secretary of state

Deceptively radical? Former US vice-president and now candidate for the presideny Joe Biden. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

US Politics: Democratic candidate could be the most radical US president in decades

US president Donald Trump and his China counterpart Xi Jinping at a business leaders’ event in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in November, 2017. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Absence of dissenting voices on issue of momentous importance is unnerving

US president Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

US Politics: Ineffectual president will likely be succeeded by more diligent anti-liberals

Participants in a Black Lives Matter protest  in  Trafalgar Square, London. ‘The US is the only nation today whose domestic failings could set off vast protests in other continents.’ Photograph: Niklas Hallen/EPA

US Politics: America is like an actor no longer in his prime but still hounded by paparazzi

Demonstrators are seen in the reflection of a first World War US army recruitment poster in Washington this week. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Recent statue-felling is an outward expression of decades of social change

US vice-president Joe Biden with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2013. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

US Politics: Nato’s charter claims of ‘common heritage’ reads quainter by the year

Joe Biden speaks via video link  at the funeral service for George Floyd inHouston, Texas, on Tuesday. Photograph: David J Phillip/EPA

US Politics: Safety-first campaign no longer adequate for Democrats’ election candidate

US president Donald Trump ‘did not etch the faultlines into his society, but he picks at them with rare abandon’. Photograph: Doug Mills/New York Times

US Politics: Sowing disunity at home is a bad tactic for a president seeking a winnable showdown abroad

US president Donald Trump on  the South Lawn of the White House this week. Photiograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: President has a path back to the White House and just enough time to act

Former US vice-president Joe Biden. Photograph: Jordan Gale/New York Times

US Politics: If there is to be another cold war, it should be fought with the subtlety of the first

Anti-lockdown protesters  near the steps of the Michigan state capitol building in Lansing last month. Photograph: Paul Sancya/AP

US Politics: It is natural to anticipate better days, but there is good news already behind us

US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping are first and foremost  superpower rivals.  Photograph: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

While their domestic autocracy is real, as a group – including Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi and others – their coherence is overstated

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Perhaps it is too much to hope that an unremarkable leader can make the planet safe for globalism. But it would not be the first time. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP

Janan Ganesh: Little was expected from US president Harry Truman but he proved a surprise

US president Donald Trump at a coronvirus news briefing at the White House on Wednesday with (from left) expert advisers  Anthony Fauci,  Deborah Birx and  Robert Redfield. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Atmosphere is ripe for party of big government to sweep elections – but that’s nothing new

US president Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus pandemic at the daily White House briefing on Wednesday. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

US Politics: No single country or bloc is strong enough to lead the world to a solution

Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on  coronavirus at the White House on Thursday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: President’s ratings at all-time high in spite of inept response to Covid-19

US senator Bernie Sanders: ‘If it is his fate to watch the US embrace bigger government, but under the leadership of others, there are worse niches in history.’ Photograph: Jacob Hannah/New York Times

US Politics: Coronavirus crisis has been the making of Democratic contender’s worldview

What is happening, though, is the induction of many office creatures into what must feel like the faintly subversive act of remote working.

Coronavirus: working from home is the future, get used to it

 Joe Biden: Must  persuade Sanders supporters  that theirs is not a revolution denied so much as one deferred. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

US Politics: Super Tuesday shows that the non-radical vote remains awesome in size

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders: Policies imply tax as a burden, not what the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes defined as “what we pay for civilised society”. Photograph:  Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

US Politics: Sanders and Warren want nothing more radical than taxing the 1%

US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping following their November 2017 meeting in Beijing. Photograph: Artyom Ivanov

US Politics: Trump could be better than high-minded idealists at containing Beijing

Democratic presidential hopeful and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders at a primary night event in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photograph:  Timothy A Clary/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Parallels between capable socialist senator and Jeremy Corbyn do not ring true

 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg: so far the most successful of the moderates. Photograph:  Joseph  Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

US politics: Range of presidential hopefuls is sign of party weakness – not strength

US president Donald Trump: Republicans who believe that Trump has a case to answer also know that he will turn his tweets, his voters and his donors on any who defy him. Photograph:  Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Trump’s acquittal will reflect deference towards the office as well as partisanship

Senator  Bernie Sanders: has undertaken  “a journey” and is now the most liberal of the Democratic candidates for the White House. Photograph: Calla Kessler/The New York Times

US Politics: Voters crave universal healthcare, taxing the rich and tighter borders

Joe Biden: Whatever the source of his resilience – in national if not state polls – allies of the US should hope it lasts.  Photograph:  Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The most ‘European’ Democratic candidates are the least helpful to its interests

US president Donald Trump: His very nationalism – his American amour propre – makes him amazingly easy to provoke into conflict.  Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

US Politics: American jingoism longs both for the quiet life and to answer provocations

US president Donald Trump: Almost any sentient mammal who stands for a major party can count on 45 per cent of the national vote. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: In a country with no hopes to dash, the president cannot disappoint people

Jaden Rams (13), yells his support for Donald Trump, the then Republican presidential candidate, during a rally in Grand Junction, Colorado in October 2016. Three years later, Rams would call the presidential campaign and its aftermath “a travesty for American unity”. File photograph:  Damon Winter/New York Times

US Politics: With Trump, what matters is his aggression on behalf of the Republican tribe

South Bend, Indiana mayor  Pete Buttigieg: has a kind of valedictorian wholesomeness. Photograph: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Left’s takeover of Democratic party is slower and patchier than anticipated

Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, an official at the US embassy in Ukraine, testify before the impeachment hearings. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

US Politics: Trump’s malign neglect of institutions does not bode will for long-term battle with China

US president Donald Trump: If so many swear by “their” president, at all costs, then country cannot be the highest loyalty. Photograph: Joshua Lott/AFP

US Politics: Passports failing to supersede parties as conflicts of day are intra-national

Barack Obama’s presidencies have warped Democrats’ expectations. Some have come to regard a once-per-generation talent as the standard by which presidential hopefuls must be judged. Photograph: Richard Clement/Reuters

US politics: Democrats have a serviceable array of candidates but not a person of elemental magnetism

East and West German Police contain the crowd of East Berliners flowing through the recent opening made in the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Square in Berlin, on November 12th, 1989. Photograph: Patrick Hertzog/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: The fall of the Berlin Wall left US citizens free to argue amongst themselves

Senator Bernie Sanders: Even if he is less taken with identity politics than with class, neither he nor Elizabeth Warren are immigration sceptics. Photograph: Allison Farrand/The New York Times

US Politics: The American left’s heroes used to lace reforms with a measure of nativism

In a country where politicians are mostly respected, Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy would never have been viable. File photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

US Politics: By clinging to the mass delusion that ‘they’re all crooks’, we have made it true

US president Donald Trump at a rally in Minneapolis on October 10th. Inadvertently, he is forcing the end of ambivalence about the US role in the world.  Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

US Politics: Those with historic qualms about US power are having a chastening education

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg: The greenest greens equate economic and even demographic growth with the depletion of the planet.  Photograph:  Eric Baradat

US Politics: Mistrust of capitalism is a clear bond between populist and environmentalist

 Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell: Donald Trump’s transactional world view always implied the possibility of his own abandonment. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Janan Ganesh: Party’s loyalty cannot be counted on as impeachment calculations change

House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Get this impeachment wrong and Democrats throw away an eminently winnable election next year. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

US Politics: This could be the last glory of Pelosi’s career or it could doom her party in 2020

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan and US president Donald Trump: The cycle of raised and dashed hopes can only be broken with extreme candour. Photograph: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council/Anadolu Agency/Getty

US Politics: US accumulated foreign interests in 20th century that cannot be divested fast

 Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US president Donald Trump: Erdogan has upset the White House by turning to Russia for defence purchases. Photograph:  Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

US Politics: There are lots of populisms. To speak of them in the terrifying singular is alarmist

US president Donald Trump participates in a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

US Politics: There is no future for a GOP that fails to address public qualms about capitalism

US president Donald Trump, ‘a talented pointer-outer of things’. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

US Politics: A subtler leader would not seek confrontation with China and Europe at the same time

Democratic senator from Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren:  part of populist left with Senator Bernie Sanders. Photograph: Craig Lassig

US Politics: Through tariffs imposed, Trump will have played role in looming downturn

Democratic presidential candidate Seth Moulton: his “mistake” has been to run on foreign policy above all else. Photograph:  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

US Politics: Parochialism of party’s primary race so far gives advantage to Trump

People hold candles as they pray during a candlelight vigil at the Immanuel Church for victims of a shooting that left 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas. Photograph:  Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

US Politics: What it means to be white is liable to change but it need not cause unrest

US president Donald Trump remains unpopular after the longest economic expansion in US history. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US Politics: The president is on a roll, but he has done little to woo swing voters

Donald Trump’s  aggression, and his ability to turn his multitudinous flock of voters on enemies, causes lawmakers to fold. Photograph:  Saul Loeb/AFP

US Politics: Kim Darroch was stating the obvious about US president – but was he right?

Janan Ganesh: ‘The populist shock has enlarged and intensified a liberal movement that was atrophying through sheer lack of stress.’ Photograph: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Attitudes towards free trade, immigration have almost completely flipped in 25 years

Joe Biden: To his mind, Republicans and Democrats feud more out of muscle memory than principle. Photograph: Randall Hill/Reuters

US Politics: The job of politics is to contain differences, not to pretend they don’t exist

Right, Gen Douglas MacArthur, commander in chief visits  the front in Korea. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

US Politics: Trump would savage a humbler foreign policy but Democrats should stand firm

US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/File Photo/Reuters

Leaders must show that China, which poses no conventional threat, has to be countered

US President Donald Trump and Britain’s prime minister Theresa May during a dinner at Winfield House on Tuesday. The question of the tech giant Huawei came up during Trump’s state visit to the UK. Photograph: Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images

US Politics: The British right cannot court Trump while keeping China as a mistress

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren  visits Fairfield, Iowa, US. Photograph: Rachel Mummey/Reuters

US Politics: Senator may shine as flashier candidates for the Democratic nod burn out

Moe the bartender in The Simpsons: cute questioning. Illustration: Fox via Getty

Janan Ganesh: Gun ownership and showy patriotism are points of difference, but what else?

US national security advisor, John Bolton (background) looks on during a meeting between president Donald Trump and president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera in the Oval Office in September, 2018. Photograph: Oliver Contreras/The Washington Post/Getty

US Politics: President should look to find like-minded players to join his team

Foreign policy: The Democratic presidential hopeful  most steeped in such policy, former vice-president Joe Biden, hardly brings it  up. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty

US Politics: It is not the pacifism or realpolitik that is striking, but the indifference

Former US vice-president Joe Biden at a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

Weary Americans could well see the insider as a perfect escape from four years of drama

US president Donald Trump boarding Air Force One in Maryland. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

A relaxation of civic mores is a deadlier threat to democracy than the president

US president Donald Trump at a roundtable discussion on immigration and border security in Calexico, California, on April 5th. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Populists do not live and die on their record – they live on a sense of rolling crisis

US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in April 2017.  Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

US Politics: Emboldened future presidents might be drawn to more wide-ranging confrontations

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