In some ways, Donald Trump has won the 2020 presidential election, even though he won’t be the one to be sworn in on January 20. Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of the election, despite what Donald Trump and his loyalists are willing to say and do to overturn that result. Nevertheless, Trump will leave a trail of lasting figurative slime for Joe Biden that will be a challenge for Biden to clean up, and Trump and his supporters will continue doing what they can to try to ensure Biden’s failure to do so. As they do, they will continue to insist that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
Trump was already carefully nurturing division and divisiveness between the political parties. Long before the election, he set the scene for his supporters to mistrust the Democrats, as well as to refuse to accept the integrity of a democratic election (unless Trump was the winner). More than one month after the election, and with just six weeks until Joe Biden is inaugurated, Trump loyalists, including most of the GOP lawmakers, won’t acknowledge or accept the results of the election. As states have counted and recounted votes, and certified Joe Biden as president-elect, Trump’s supporters have no basis in reality for their claims that Trump won the election.
Two-hundred twenty Republican members of Congress will not say who won the election. Two others maintain that Trump won. Only 27 GOP members of Congress acknowledge that Joe Biden defeated Trump. In effect, 222 Republican members of Congress (more than 88 percent), whether by their statements that Trump is the winner, or by their cowardice to acknowledge Biden’s victory, have been complicit in promoting the fantasy that Donald Trump has won the 2020 presidential election. How, then, will they acknowledge Joe Biden as their leader when the time comes?
According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 70 percent of Republicans say they don’t think the 2020 election was free and fair, despite even Republican experts verifying that it was the most secure election in our history. This lack of trust in the election results is directly due to Donald Trump’s continual rhetoric about the election being “stolen,” his vilifying of the Republican leaders and election officials who refuse to compromise the integrity of the election results, and his refusal to concede. In this way, Donald Trump has won the 2020 presidential election, because it is his rhetoric, no matter how irrational, that dominates the thought processes of his supporters.
When Joe Biden takes office, Donald Trump will leave the White House, but he won’t be gone. A man who can persuade his cult following to believe whatever he says, and who can incite them to violent language and actions on his behalf, won’t just fade away. As the new Biden administration works to unify Americans, we can expect Trump’s loyalists to put up a fight (quite possibly literally), with Donald Trump egging them on. As Joe Biden works to get his cabinet nominees confirmed, many of Trump’s loyalists in Congress will work to block them, as some of them have already declared they would.
Donald Trump has set up a post-Trump America where most of his party have no faith in election security, mistrust science, see all Democrats as evil socialists who want to take away their freedom and their guns, and view “patriotism” as the willingness to take up arms against what Donald Trump villifies— even public health measures such as a mask-wearing requirement during a pandemic.
In an America where nearly half of Americans no longer trust or respect the democratic process, and where the silence of their party’s lawmakers implies that these lawmakers concur with the view that Donald Trump is the legitimate president for the next four years (or even beyond, according to the wishes of some), Joe Biden is likely to face challenges unlike those of any other president. How, then, will he be permitted to lead?
The Trump legacy includes a coronavirus pandemic that is out of control, largely because of Donald Trump’s incompetence, his refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the virus, and his perpetuation of conspiracy theories regarding it. As a result, many of Trump’s supporters have ignored public health recommendations, contributing to the deadly spread of the virus. Though the coronavirus doesn’t care what political party its victims belong to, its rampant spread can be attributed, at least in large part, to the behavior of those following Donald Trump’s example. As the virus continues to take thousands of American lives as a result of disregard for the pleas of health experts, Donald Trump is winning.
Joe Biden has committed to being president for all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him. Will that challenge be insurmountable as some of them continue their unfounded rejection of the legitimacy of Biden’s election as president? Many of them have demonstrated that they are unable to distinguish fealty to Donald Trump from loyalty to country. Some of them have shown that in their loyalty to Donald Trump, they are willing to be unlawful; others have shown that they would at least support unlawfulness; still others have shown that they would at least not speak out against unlawfulness, if it is in support of Donald Trump.
As president, Joe Biden will face mammoth challenges that will not only include trying to heal a country that doesn’t necessarily or entirely want to be healed, they will also include renewing and repairing the global relationships that Donald Trump has damaged. But Biden knew what he would be facing, and he willingly took it on. Perhaps Joe Biden will be just the one we needed to reassure us that in no way has Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
Weeks after the election, Republicans refuse to admit Biden won | Washington Post [2020-12-05]
Trump continues to deny election results despite legal losses | CBS Evening News [2020-12-07]