‘It only goes to show that, at least in the United States of America, the democratic process, whose central element may very well be the electoral exercise, is bigger than any man – or woman for that matter.’
YESTERDAY, the General Services Administration of the government of the United States of America, through its administrator, signaled the start of the formal process of transition from Donald J. Trump to Joseph R. Biden. The signal, despite continuing efforts by the Trump campaign to challenge the results of the elections in key battleground states, came in the form of the decision by Emily Murphy, GSA administrator, to release federal funds and other resources to the Biden transition team for the latter’s use in its preparations for the January 20, 2021 inauguration.
It is worth noting that for more than two weeks now the GSA refused to acknowledge Biden as the winner of the elections, citing the absence of any official certification to that effect. But in the last week, the Biden victory has been made more inevitable by three events: the hand recount in Georgia that reaffirmed Biden’s win; the dismissal by a federal judge (a long-time registered Republican!) of the Trump campaign lawsuit to nullify the election results in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the certification by the State of Michigan of Biden’s 154,000 vote victory.
Of course, despite this apparent nod to the inevitable by an agency of the Trump administration, the Trump campaign continued to insist that this was just “preliminary work” with the democrats and would not stop efforts to change the results of the Nov. 3 elections. This is not surprising, for many reasons, but three stand out in my book: Donald Trump has a hard time accepting defeat is one, and Donald Trump is able to raise funds by continuing to push back on the Biden victory is another – important for any campaign that loses in the elections and is usually left with staggering amounts of debts to pay.
Trump is just demonstrating his business savvy, even in defeat.
But the third may very well be the most difficult to bear: the fact that a Biden administration may be far less inclined to establish roadblocks into federal government investigations into the workings of the Trump organization, the Trump family corporation that is currently embroiled in a number of lawsuits – including allegations that funds raised for charity were in fact channeled into the business side of the family operations. And then there’s the issue of Trump’s tax returns which he has refused to release even as early as during the campaign for the Republican Party nomination in 2016. Out of office, Trump will not be able to cite “executive privilege” as a justification for stonewalling any and every request to look into his finances; and any attempt to defy court orders will swiftly lead to contempt citations.
He can (and surely will) cry “persecution” once the wheels of justice begin to turn, and his loyal followers – and they are millions – will be motivated by that to campaign for a Trump return in 2024 or for someone who will carry on “Trumpism.” But yes, Lady Justice wears a blindfold and 9 times out of 10 she abides by the Latin legal phrase “Fiat justitiaruatcaelum” or “Let justice be done though the heavens fall,” which means that partisans may rally all they want, but the law is the law.
Someone even naughtily suggested that Biden nominate Hillary Clinton as attorney general, because as attorney general it will be her job to order (or continue with) investigations on Trump, his family organization and his allies. That would be a riot – but you can expect a strong blowback from Republicans, especially in the Senate.
But what a twist that would be, eh?
Ultimately, Donald Trump may try every trick in the book to reverse the results of the last elections, but he is bound to fail. It only goes to show that, at least in the United States of America, the democratic process, whose central element may very well be the electoral exercise, is bigger than any man – or woman for that matter. It has been tested many times: during the Civil War that pit the United States against the southern Confederate States in the 1860s, elections happened and Abraham Lincoln was re-elected (and then assassinated); the Watergate scandal damaged the Presidency like never before, and Richard Nixon resigned after being told by Republican partymates in Congress that he would not be able to escape impeachment and conviction; the Iran-Contra scandal that engulfed the latter part of the Reagan Administration and the Monica Lewinsky scandal that engulfed the last part of the first term of Bill Clinton also shook the faith of many Americans in politicians and in the system. And the electoral system survived the Bush-Gore fight that went all the way to the US Supreme Court, with Gore bowing to the process and putting his patriotism ahead of everything else.
On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden will take his oath of office as the 46th President of the United States and the US political process survives another serious challenge. It is in the interest of America – and of the world – that it always does so.
And may this experience in America be a lesson for politically-minded Filipinos.