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Consequences of a Hard Transition of Power in the United States

With the end of this hectic US election, the world witnesses Biden coming to the helms of the presidency as the symbol of ‘normalcy’ and ‘stability’ to the American people, he tried his best to create an affectionate narrative by holding off a little late till announcing his candidacy, trying to become an altruistic symbol of purity and being the one who would restore the soul of the country. As a consequence, all that had happened was due to Biden tabling his imperfect past up for national discussion. From embracing segregationists to harassment claims, everything seemed tarnished for Biden from the get-go. Still, he succeeded in securing the democratic candidacy and also edging the current President Donald Trump to become the next one. However, it’s not going to be an easy road for the President-Elect as the sitting President hasn’t shown any signs of committing to a peaceful transition of power. Moreover, Trump’s behavioural tendencies strongly suggest against anything even remotely resembling peacefulness or stability. During the VP debate, Mike Pence refused to answer whether Mr Trump will commit to a peaceful transfer of power by dodging the question (Hjelmgaard 2020) nobody seemingly picked up on it quite the way I hoped and now after the elections his explicit ignorance tweets claiming he won this election are somehow not that big of a deal because it’s just ‘Trump being Trump’. It may have been comical initially, but the sheer ignorance of his delusional persona is becoming increasingly alarming for the US. Although signs are appearing of Trump coming to terms with reality as his legal battles fell one-by-one in each state, it still is a highly volatile period where his actions may keep swinging from one place to another as he makes this a personal vendetta for what he claims the democrats did since 2016 and slowed down his administrative abilities as a President. So now, this has become more of ‘getting back at the democrats rather than him believing that he won this election’.

A hard transition of power can be two-faceted, it can either be as Trump just simply refusing to leave the Presidency and not accepting the election results, or it can be through actions taken by the Trump administration, that may have harmful implications for Joe Biden’s term. I like to call them Direct and Indirect implications. It’s imperative to have a look into both perspectives separately.

Direct Implications- America’s Image at stake

Imagine a scenario where the Toddler-In-Chief just simply refuses to leave the White House. That’s the context we may be dealing with here. He has basically created a deadlock where irrespective of the outcome of the election, he will create chaos, which is testament to the fact that he’s ready to go to any lengths to get what he wants, even if that means compromising democratic procedure, which he ironically claims to stand up for. In the 2000 election, Al Gore and George W. Bush went head to head through a thin election with a series of legal battles that saw Bush win by a margin of 537 votes from Florida. Even at that point, instead of giving in to the obvious temptation of being a sore loser, Al Gore delivered a concession speech and settled for an honourable loss. This election, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked what would happen if Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power and she summed it up perfectly that he’d either leave on his own, or ‘with a little bit of help’.

Headaches for Biden- From Polarized Narratives to Disappointing Covid Response

He inherits a country that used to label itself as ‘the flag bearer of democracy and liberal values’, but now has two consecutive elections under fire for being unfair. Free and Fair elections are the bedrock of democracy, and every single act of defiance by Trump hampers that democratic structure. These actions by the Trump administration are less for any legal value and more towards creating a vindictive public narrative. Even though Trump may have lost, it's important to keep in mind that he still got higher votes than what he got in 2016. He, in fact, got the second-highest popular vote count for any US presidential candidate (7,35,23,942 votes), unfortunate for him that Biden managed to top that list. This means that he still has a large amount of following that listens to and abides by what he says, and consequently, is going to act up after the invisible controversy that he has created out of this election. So even if Biden manages to get Trump out of the Presidential seat that he currently seems glued to, normalcy is still far away, considering the fact that the nature of votes that Biden got were largely ‘Anti-Trump’ rather than ‘Pro Biden’. So the public mandate consists of two factions: one that accepts Trump as their leader and the other that saw Biden as a getaway ticket rather than someone that they’d normally vote for, but they were cognizant that this was no normal election.

Another broad challenge that Biden faces is the highly polarized public opinion fueled by Democratic and Republican narratives. The partisan propagandas have gone massively out of proportion, claiming each other to be a threat to the very existence of the country. This attitude doesn’t just put the two parties at loggerheads in Congress, but it consciously puts the population in a futile conflict with each other. The narrative is to be surely blamed, but what follows after the narrative is gravely undermined. An act like Trump refusing to confidently condemn a Neo-Nazist rally may seem trivial to some, but it may legitimize disgusting racial claims of the other who see the leader of their country putting their racist guilty pleasures into a comfort zone. As a consequence, we saw brutal open acts of racial oppression and police brutality that reached a tipping point and significantly contributed to the inception of the BLM movement, because the President pushed a narrative (maybe unknowingly to his blissful ignorance) which ultimately led to a situation like this.

Moreover, Biden inherits a Congress divided than ever. Republicans in the House of Representatives exceeded a lot of expectations and narrowed down the Democrat majority to just 219 seats, basically crawling over the 218 majority mark. The Senate race is on a 50:48 ratio in favour of the Republicans (As of November 11). It again brings forward a starkly divided government and given how both the parties have been, consensus-building and reconciliation are totally out of the picture. A study shows that the majority of the partisans in Congress consider each other as close-minded, unintelligent, immoral, lazy and unpatriotic (Pew Research Centre 2019). It’s representative of how deeply entrenched and water locked these perceptions are. Many Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell are supporting this election fraud facade. This revolting attitude is going to be carried to the Congress for the next 4 years to indiscriminately discredit everything that the Biden administration would do. On top of that, the worldview of American Politics led by Trump in these last 4 years has been concerning, and the current facade of refusing to concede and cooperate adds to it even more. Countries like Germany, France, and China seem to have a pessimistic opinion of Trump’s behaviours (Pew Research Organization 2020). They expect little from Trump’s America and have been shaping polic