By Carlton Joseph
Americans have decided and Joe Biden is the winner of the US presidential elections held November 3 last. However, Donald Trump has declared that he is the winner and continues to spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about a rigged presidential election, tweeting: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”
Unbelievable! The President of the United States is openly undermining the foundations of its democracy. Americans are finding out that it’s easier to change Presidents and Prime Ministers in foreign countries than to change the President in their own country. Worst, they are finding out that what they thought were laws are just norms and customs.
Top Senate and House GOP leaders are ambivalent, claiming that there are serious legal challenges that must be resolved and that the American people deserve a fair and transparent process. Amazingly, in Trump’s claim of a rigged election he mentions four critical states – Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – controlled by Republicans, that Biden won. And, the leaders of these states have refused to participate in a legally dubious scheme.
Trump received a major legal setback when his own Department of Homeland Security reported that the election was not tampered with, and was the most secure in American history. And there are no findings of widespread fraud or problems in the vote count.
Unable to accept defeat Trump keeps on breaking every law and norm that allows for the successful transfer of power. He has blocked Biden from receiving federal funds allocated to facilitate the transition and blocked the President-elect from receiving intelligence briefings. Trump’s machinations remind me of a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: ” Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
To outside observers and some Americans, this entire spectacle does not make any sense. But in America the U.S. presidential election is not formally over until Electors convene on December 14 to formally cast their votes. The newly seated Congress accepts the results from the Electoral College on January 6, 2021. If Biden wins the Electoral College vote, as expected, he will be sworn in at noon on January 20, 2021 a date set in the Constitution On that date, Trump’s “hour” on the stage will end.
For the past few months’ people, myself included, have been asking: Will Trump leave office? Will American democracy come to an end?
Assuming that Trump will continue to dismantle the legal process and disrupt a peaceful transition to Biden, one has to focus on the actions of America’s business community to see where this is going, because America is primarily about business and profits. Charles Wilson’s “What’s good for GM is Good for America” is still the norm. More than two-dozen CEOs of major U.S. corporations decided that they would make public statements pressuring GOP legislators to do their jobs, be patriots and respect the process. They believe that Trump’s actions and legislators’ continued ambivalence could have a devastating effect upon markets and the public trust.
Of much greater importance is that we follow the December 14 vote of Electors. Once Biden wins the Electoral College, Trump’s recalcitrance will be obsolete. The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 is initiated, and the General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator, Emily Murphy, must name Biden the winner of the election. Trump cannot delay or stop the process. The incoming president’s team can obtain briefing books, tap into funds, and send representatives to visit government agencies. The administrative apparatus will then begin to function efficiently and effectively.
The next critical date is January 20. The 20th Amendment of the Constitution states, “The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” At that moment the Military, the Secret Service and all other arms of government will refuse any order from Trump. Any officers that try to keep him in power could be charged and convicted with sedition and mutiny. If Trump refuses to leave the White House, he would become a “trespasser,” and the Secret Service would escort him out.
Overseas, foreign leaders will be directed to cut off relations with the U.S. Ambassadors in their capitals and await instructions from President Biden or his Secretary of State. I am certain that Trump’s ego will not allow for such a terrible ending to his already disastrous presidency. He has evicted many people from his apartment buildings’; he will not want to be evicted.
(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington DC, is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)