ON NOVEMBER 7, 2020, Democratic nominee Joe Biden became President-elect after surpassing the 270-victory mark for electoral votes, and winning the greatest number of popular votes in the history of the United States.
The historic turnout, among Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and even from those with no party affiliation, is a testament to the urgency of the moment, amid the escalating threat of the coronavirus pandemic that has been infecting more than 130,000 Americans per day, with 10.2+ million confirmed cases, and an increasing death toll of 239,000 Americans.
This pandemic has disrupted lives, livelihoods and businesses across the country, and has divided the already polarized nation even more with mixed messages coming from the White House, defying advisories from health officials, state leaders and scientists that are working hard with doctors, nurses and other frontliners to save lives.
President-elect Joe Biden has already started efforts toward the peaceful transition of power pursuant to the rule of law, an effort shared by both the outgoing president and president-elect of past election cycles.
On Monday, November 9, Biden posted on social media and I quote: “Today, I have named a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board, comprised of distinguished public health experts, to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan into a blueprint we can put into places soon as @KamalaHarris and I are sworn into office.”
Biden has announced on Tuesday, November 10, the teams of people who will work to prepare the incoming administration to take control of the federal government. As CNN reported, these transition teams included names of about 500 people who will work in various agencies of the government — “from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Postal Service” and many more.
This election cycle, however, has been very much unlike how it was done in past administrations where the members of the transition teams work with career officials inside the government to prepare the incoming administration to take over.
The reason for this is the sad fact that President Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat, and he is enabled by the Republican leadership headed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and right-leaning outlets like Fox News who enable his conspiracy theory that votes were stolen from him.
The Trump administration is not accepting Biden as president-elect, even as leaders of other countries, including Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, have already called and messaged Biden to congratulate him. U.S. allies said “Welcome back America” following the Biden-Harris victory.
The Trump White House on Monday instructed senior government leaders to block cooperation with Biden’s transition team. And so, despite the efforts of Biden in organizing his transition team, the National Public Radio (NPR) reported that “one thing Biden cannot do at this point is move into any government office space or receive government funding for the transition.”
Despite the will of the people electing Biden to be the next president, “A key, if little-known Trump administration official has yet to determine formally that Biden won the election, holding up some crucial resources traditionally available to the president-elect.”
Under the 1963 Presidential Transition Act, it’s up to the General Services Administration, or GSA, to determine or ‘ascertain’ the winner of the presidential election, at least as far as starting the process of turning over the keys to the new administration goes,” according to NPR.
Robert MacKichan, who was general counsel to the GSA during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, told NPR the law is kind of vague about what this actually means. “There’s no legal standard contained within this act as to what constitutes the ascertainment,” he said in the report.
Instead of supporting the Biden transition teams as other outgoing Presidents of the United States have done, Trump and his minions have asked for investigations, using taxpayers’ money, into alleged widespread election fraud. They have also filed lawsuits in court, but judges handling these lawsuits have ruled that there was no sufficient evidence to support these claims. Trump then wanted to bring this fight all the way to the Supreme Court despite the lack of proof and merit in court.
Trump has been asking his die-hard fans to again storm the streets in virus superspreader crowds to defend him and fight for his second term, going against the will of the majority of the American people who voted for Biden to be the 46th president of the United States.
“President Trump is racing to raise money for an “official election defense fund.” But the fine print on the solicitations tells a different story: Half — or more — of any contribution will be used to retire debt from his re-election campaign,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The president and his cohorts in Congress have been attacking the integrity of the votes of the American people, the integrity of election officials and secretaries of states, governors and lieutenant governors, who were composed of Republicans and Democrats alike.
These Republicans in Congress are supposed to be exercising their checks and balances on the president, an obligation required of them by the Constitution as members of the co-equal branch of government. Unfortunately, these Republican members put their own political survival ahead of the peaceful transfer of power, compromising the United States’ national security and the greater good of the American people.
As “We, the People” want to heal and move forward together as one “United States of America,” it is imperative for Trump, the Republicans in Congress and their supporters to respect the will of the American people in this election — the most scared of all our rights as citizens in this democracy: Government of the people, By the People, For the People.
Let me quote excerpts from the late Senator John McCain’s speech when he conceded defeat to Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election.
May these words help us in our introspection on what we can do in the name of our love for our nation and our respect to the Constitution as true patriots of the United States of America.
“Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day — though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her Creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.
Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. We fought — we fought as hard as we could.
And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.
I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends. The road was a difficult one from the outset. But your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you….”
“This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life. And my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend, Sen. Joe Biden, should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.
I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Sen. Obama, I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.
And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.”
Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America.”
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at email@example.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.