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Student Opinion: It’s Time to Accept the Loss and Move On, Donald.
Written by Yasmin Miranda
November 15, 2020
After a long, grueling campaign, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was named president-elect alongside Kamala Harris as vice president-elect on Saturday, November 7th. This projected victory came after Biden secured Pennsylvania, leaving him with 284 electoral college votes.
It is not often that an incumbent United States President running for re-election is defeated. In fact, the last time it happened was during the presidential election of 1992, when Governor Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush. However, whereas President George H.W. Bush conceded with grace, Donald Trump so far has not.
Upon losing his bid for the presidency, George H.W. Bush from a Houston, Texas hotel said during his speech, “The people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system… I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House, and I want the country to know that our entire administration will work closely with his team to ensure the smooth transition of power.”
Let’s contrast this with the current 2020 presidential race.
On November 5th, Donald Trump held a press conference at the White House, declaring that he had won the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. At the time of this speech, he had already lost Wisconsin and Michigan, while, according to CNN projections, his lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia continued to shrink.
Trump also alleged that his opponents, the Democratic Party, were “trying to steal [the] election, they’re trying to rig [the] election, and we can’t let that happen” and that, “if you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” During his presidential campaign Trump repeatedly spoke out about the “corruptness” of mail-in ballots, despite having voted by mail in previous elections. This speech has been called “the most dishonest speech of his presidency” as many television channels cut off the president mid-speech to refute his claims.
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After Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, the Trump campaign doubled down on their unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Trump tweeted out a variety of conspiracy claims of widespread voter fraud, with no evidence, alongside claiming he won the election. The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in key states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. These lawsuits allege voter fraud despite the lack of evidence. So far none of the lawsuits have been successful in front of a judge, and many have been thrown out.
These actions are dangerous and undemocratic. To allege voter fraud in states that were lost by the Republican party, but not those that they won shows the hypocrisy and the true nature of the lawsuits that have been filed by the Trump campaign. Moreover, it sends the wrong message to the governments of the world. To challenge the results of an election with no evidence in order to retain power not only puts our own democracy in jeopardy, but also the democracies around the world who may follow in the footsteps of the current president. This is not only about this one particular election, but about all the elections that will follow in the United States. Are Donald Trump’s childish tantrums really what America wants its democracy to look like?
Not to mention the power behind Donald Trump’s words, especially to his followers. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on November 10th, declared with a smirk that there would be “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”. Those who are sworn to protect the constitution and the United States democracy are directly undermining it for the sake of consoling the president’s feelings is a national embarrassment.
It’s time to concede and accept the new president-elect, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
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However, for the sake of a transition of power, conceding is actually not necessary. As conservative lawyer John Yoo stated, “The thing about the American Constitution is that it doesn’t actually require the sitting president to do anything one way or the other. On January 20th, Donald Trump’s term ends and Joe Biden’s, I believe, will begin.” The constitution’s 20th Amendment states that “The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January…and the terms of their successors shall then begin.” Nowhere in the constitution is it noted that the losing party must concede.
As for Biden, his spokesman Andrew Bates stated that, “the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Many have compared this election to the 2000 election with George W. Bush and Al Gore. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the recount in Florida, which ended up reaching the Supreme Court, was only over 537 votes, not thousands which is where Biden’s lead currently lies. As for 2020, while the Trump campaign continues to unsuccessfully file lawsuits, the Biden-Harris team have begun putting together their team despite the General Services Administration blocking them from accessing important transitional information. According to the Washington Post, the “reluctance denies Biden’s incoming White House aides critical resources: additional funding to pay for transition expenses (e.g., salaries, supplies, travel), the acquisition of additional office space, advancing the vetting of potential nominees through the FBI and access to the civil servants who have prepared extensive reports in preparation for this very moment. The ability to interview outgoing appointees as well as civil servants is fundamental to the successful transfer of power.” In addition, “Biden will not receive the all-important intelligence briefings, and his advisers are not permitted to meet with high-level officials so that they can learn the risks facing the country.” These actions, although the Biden-Harris team have insisted they are moving forward with or without the General Services help, are still fundamental to a smooth transition of power, especially during a time where the United States is facing a health crisis with COVID-19.
This presidential election has been like no other. The United States set a record number of votes cast in any election in over 100 years. Joe Biden broke Barack Obama’s record from 2008. This is not the only reason this election has been unique. COVID-19 forced many to vote by mail or drop-off and now, an exiting President refuses to concede an election he lost. As Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney put it, it is time for Donald Trump to “put his big boy pants on” and “acknowledge the fact that he lost and he needs to congratulate the winner just as Jimmy Carter did, just as George Bush did and frankly just as Al Gore did and let us move forward as a country.”