Americaâ€™s Transition from President Trump to President Biden
The 2020 U.S. Presidential election may have been the most contentious election in American history. While President-elect Joseph Biden was the decided winner, with almost 8 million more popular votes and a decisive victory in the electoral college, President Trump began claiming election fraud would occur almost a year before the election. In fact, Trump and his supporters have continued to suggest that the results of the election are somehow illegitimate and have contested them in various ways including over 60 lawsuits, all of which were dismissed. Despite the allegations of election fraud, there has been no credible evidence of any type of widespread election fraud that would change the outcome of the election. However, a group of Trump-supporting Republican members of Congress, in both the House and the Senate, announced their intention to refuse to certify electoral votes from the states where they believe election fraud occurred.
Trumpâ€™s Coup Attempt
Breaking a Tradition of More than Two Centuries of Peaceful Transitions of Power
Was the Election Stolen?
Certifying Electors: What the Process Really Means
How the Lack of Cooperation by the Trump Administration During the Transition Process Could Impact National Security
What role has disinformation played in President Trumpâ€™s campaign to avoid a peaceful transition of power to President-Elect Biden?
How the seditious attack on the capitol was predictable, even if surprising, and who should be charged with orchestrating the attack.
Where there any proven cases of voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, were they in favor of Biden or Trump, and were there enough of them to have any impact on the outcome of the election?
Which of Trumpâ€™s tactics to avoid Biden being certified as the next President of the United States were legitimate and which were illegitimate?
Will President-Elect Joe Biden be inaugurated on January 20, 2021?
A. 2020 Presidential Election Candidates
B. Complications from COVID-19
C. Allegations of fraud
D. Efforts to keep people from voting
E. Election results
F. Efforts to overturn results
G. Thesis statement.
II. 2020 Presidential Election Candidates
A. Donald Trump
B. Joe Biden
III. Complications from COVID-19
B. In-person voting risky
C. Most states expanded voting
D. Mail-in voting
IV. Allegations of fraud
A. Before the election
B. After the election
V. Efforts to keep people from voting
A. Discouraged voting by mail
B. Purges of voter roles
C. Slowdown of USPS
VI. Election results
A. Reasons for delays
VII. Trumpâ€™s efforts to overturn election results
A. Disinformation campaign
C. Attempt to prevent certification of election results
VIII. Biden gets certified
Title: Joe Biden Will Be Inaugurated, but Will We Still Be America?
Hook Sentence: With less than two weeks until Joe Bidenâ€™s inauguration, the day after his failed coup attempt, and amid calls for his removal via impeachment or the 25th Amendment, President Trump appears increasingly unhinged. Will the United States survive the next two weeks?
The 2020 Presidential election may become the most infamous election in U.S. history. At first glance, the contest would not seem that unusual. The two major candidates were from the countryâ€™s two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was the current President of the United States, while the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, was both a former Senator and former Vice-President under President Barack Obama. However, 2020 was also the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made everything more complicated, including campaigning and the elections. The changes that states made in order to accommodate people who could not all safely vote in person under existing rules served as one of the basis for allegations of election fraud, which Trump began making before the first vote was even cast. In addition to attempting to delegitimize election results, Trump and various state Republican parties attempted to prevent people from voting, purging thousands from voter rolls and shutting down polling places. These efforts even extended to installing a Postmaster General who would intentionally slow down the mail in the months leading up to the election. Despite these efforts, Joe Biden obtained a decisive victory in the election, winning it by well over 7 million popular votes and with 306 electoral votes to 232 votes for President Trump. President Trump and several of his proxies began filing lawsuits challenging the election results, but none were successful. Trump then began exploring other ways to prevent Biden being certified as the winner of the election, including a certification-day rally where he said he would lead a group of insurgents to the capitol to change the outcome. Despite these threats, Biden was certified as the new President in the early morning hours of January 7, 2021 and will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
Although Biden has been certified as the next President and will be inaugurated, there are questions about what the intervening two weeks mean for the country, including whether President Trump will be removed via impeachment or the 25th Amendment prior to the end of his term or face criminal liability for his role in the insurrection afterwards.
The 2020 Presidential election was a contest between Republican incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic contender Joe Biden. The race began in a more contentious manner than many previous presidential elections for several reasons. Donald Trump had inspired people to respond in highly emotional ways to him, which resulted in the formation of a dedicated group of Trump supporters, a group of Republicans who highly disliked him but voted for him out of party loyalty, a group of Republicans who openly disavowed him and called upon others to do the same, and a group of Democrats who determined to vote for whoever one their primary in an effort to get Trump out of office. Trumpâ€™s lack of popularity among his detractors was the result of a number of factors, from his being impeached in early 2020 to his unwillingness to step forward as a leader during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden was not seen as the most popular candidate at the beginning of the Democratic primaries, but he was seen as the one most likely to defeat Trump and to begin healing some of the intense division that was the result of the Trump administration.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic complicated the election in a number of ways. It began by impacting how candidates campaigned. Both during the primaries and after he got the Democratic nomination, Biden was careful not to hold large in-person, maskless events because of the fear of spreading COVID-19 among the population. Much of his campaigning was done virtually or in drive-in events. In contrast, even after repeated episodes of COVID-19 spreading at his events, Trump continued to hold large campaign rallies, and did not require the attendees to wear masks or to socially distance. This behavior continued even after Trump, himself, contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized for the illness.
In addition to complicating how the candidates campaigned, the pandemic fundamentally impacted how people could vote. In-person voting, which often featured crowded lines and a number of people indoors, became risky. This was further exacerbated by the fact that many areas had failed to institute any type of mask mandates or social distancing and were experiencing COVID-19 surges at the time of the election. Many states responded to this threat by trying to expand voting opportunities for people including expanding in-person voting, extending early voting hours, and expanding mail-in or absentee voting. However, these efforts were challenged in many locations, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully.
Polling lower than Biden for most of the pre-election season, Trump began suggesting that if he lost the election the results would be because of fraud long before the election began. He began suggesting that mail-in voting created opportunities for fraud, despite casting his own ballot via the mail. He actively discouraged his voters from voting by mail and then installed a Postmaster General who took various steps, including removing voting machines, to slow down the transmission of the mail. In some states, voters were purged from voting roles and polling places in traditionally minority areas were closed.
Despite the efforts to hinder voters, particularly Democratic voters, the results in the 2020 election ended up being decisively in favor of Joe Biden. While he did not win all of the states where polls showed him being a potential winner, such as Texas, which was considered a toss-up for the first time in decades, he did carry states like Georgia, which had not voted for a Democrat for President in over two generations. However, the margins of victory in many states was relatively slim. In addition, because many Biden supporters casts their ballots by mail, some of the results did not come in until long after the November 3, 2020 election day. This meant that people could not really predict the overall winner of the election until November 7th, when ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and The New York Times all projected him to be the winner of the 2020 presidential election, based on estimates that he would win the state of Pennsylvania, taking him over the 270 electoral vote threshold (Ballotpedia, 2021). Arizona and Georgia were called later, but Biden won them, as well. However, the margin in Georgia was small enough to trigger a hand recount, which was not completed until November 24 (Ballotpedia, 2021).
Despite a decisive victory for Biden, Trump refused to acknowledge that Biden had won. He refused to commit to the idea of a peaceful transition even before most states had begun their early voting process. In fact, on September 24, 2020 he stated that there would be no transfer of power, only a continuation of power (Cilizza, 2021). His position was that unless he won the election it would be illegitimate. He did not win the election, so he began immediately contesting the results.
The first way that Trump began to contest the results was through the legal system. Just months before the election, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and, despite stating that a Supreme Court Justice should not be replaced in an election year, the Republican majority senate rushed through confirmation of Trumpâ€™s nominee. Trump was very vocal about the fact that he wanted her seated in case the election had to be decided by the Supreme Court. However, his initial legal challenges occurred in lower courts in many states. Despite alleging massive voter fraud, no lawsuits found any substance to his complaints and they did not result in any massive purging of votes for Biden. This included a challenge that made it to the Supreme Court, where three of Trumpâ€™s own judicial nominees sat for the case (Richardson, 2021).
When it became clear that he was not going to get the legal system to overturn the results of the election, Trump began pushing for the election results to not be certified. The certification process is a pro forma one that simply looks at whether or not the election results sent to the Congress are from the actual electors of that state. However, Trump began to float the idea that congressmen could object to the results and that Vice President Pence, as President of the Senate, could overturn the results of the election. Vice President Pence stated, correctly, that he did not have the power to do so, angering Trump.
The day of the certification, Trump led a rally near the steps of the capitol. He told a group of thousands of his supporters that they (including him) were going to march on the capitol and get Congress to change the results of the election. The group of protestors began marching towards the capitol. Trump and his children disappeared from the crowd. Many of the protestors remained peaceful protestors outside of the capitol grounds. However, a significantly-sized group of terrorists was among the protestors and they breached the capitol, going through barriers to get inside and scaling the walls to get on top of the capitol building. They erected a hangmanâ€™s scaffold outside of the capitol and reports are that many of them were carrying zip ties and weapons, with plans to take members of Congress hostage. When one of the terrorists, a former member of the U.S. military, broke a window and tried to enter a room where people were sheltering in place, the Capitol Police were forced to kill her in order to protect the elected officials inside. Three other terrorists died in their attack on the capitol that day. Meanwhile, the White House repeatedly refused to call out the National Guard to stop the terrorists and Trump initially refused to ask the terrorists to stand down. When Trump finally did make a statement, he repeated the lies about the stolen election and told the terrorists he loved him, though he did also ask them not to use violence.
Ultimately, the seditious attack on the capitol was unsuccessful. Congress reconvened at 8pm on January 6, 2021, and stayed up until the early morning hours certifying the election results. The process was complicated by the fact that several members of the House of Representatives and a handful of Senators continued to oppose the election results from some states, despite being fully aware that neither the laws nor the Constitution gave the Congress the power to ignore a stateâ€™s properly certified election results.
It is actually impossible to write a conclusion to this scenario, at this time. The Capitol Police failed to arrest many of the terrorists who attacked the capitol. Biden was certified, but with two weeks to the inauguration, most of the nation is wondering what else Trump is going to try to do to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Politicians and citizens from both sides of the political spectrum, including many of Trumpâ€™s former cabinet members, are calling for Trumpâ€™s removal from office, but an alarming 45% of Republican voters still believe the election was fraudulent and some of those people even support the terrorist attack on the Congress. As of January 7, 2021, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer had both called upon Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump for his role in the insurrection. They have both stated their intention to use impeachment proceedings if there is no 25th Amendment action. As of the time this essay was written, Pence had not responded, but reports were that Trump had barred Pence from the White House.
Ballotpedia. â€œElection Results, 2020.â€ Ballotpedia.org. 14 December 2020. https://ballotpedia.org/Election_results,_2020. Accessed 7 January 2021.
Cilizza, Chris. â€œDonald Trumpâ€™s Election Threat Is Actually Worse Than It Appears.â€ CNN Politics. 24 September 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/24/politics/donald-trump-election-peaceful-transition/index.html. Accessed 7 January 2021.
Richardson, Heather Cox. â€œJanuary 6, 2021.â€ Letters from an American. 6 January 2021. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/january-6-2021. Accessed 7 January 2021.