By Vynateya Purimetla (’21)
Although Trump has lost the 2020 election in a historic defeat, the damage he has wrought on this country will not be as easily dispensable. Through his term, his inaction on coronavirus and climate change, incompetence on the international stage, polarizing personality, and fractures to the political discourse can not be understated. Like his entire presidency, his exit and lame-duck period is marked with such disgrace and danger.
Although there has been no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud, Trump’s legal team has mounted 10 challenges in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and others that Biden has won. Furthermore, Trump has sent Barr’s Department of Justice as a personal lapdog to sow division and create distrust. Though all of these challenges have failed, the precedent it sets endured. It posits that any losing incumbent can leverage the legal process, the Department of Justice, the bully pulpit of the Presidency, and the infrastructure of their party to cling to power. It is fortunate that this race is not particularly close because with these tools combined with the factors of voter suppression and gerrymandering, Trump could have pulled it off.
Most troubling is Trump’s inability to be gracious in defeat and concede. Earlier this week, when asked by a reporter if the results of the election will be respected, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows responded “we will smoothly transition into a second Trump administration”. This blatant disregard for the American people’s voice and is eerily dictatorial. Due in part to Trump’s social media and news sycophants, roughly 40% of the Republican party believes Joe Biden is not the legitimate President-Elect. This damage to the national discourse and shifting of the Overton Window to such a baseless, harmful dialogue will persist far after Trump is gone.
On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Although this will end Trump’s term, the Leviathan legacy he has imparted, the institutions he has crumbled, and the divisions he has widened will remain. Take this time to reach out to a friend or family member with a different political opinion and turn down the heat on discourse- to find commonalities rather than differences. It is incumbent upon all Americans to come together and unify behind our common goals: equality, liberty, justice, and progress.