Image courtesy of Yahoo News
By Jack Rowing
Last Saturday, five days after most Americans cast their ballots, major news networks including Fox News and The New York Times called the election for Joe Biden. After being introduced by Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, President-Elect Joe Biden gave his victory speech. He spoke on faith, values, and unity. He made commitments to educators and essential workers to help them during his presidency. He also spoke on his plan to unify the deeply divided country. Across the country people celebrated the political victory in the streets. All the while, a final element is missing from his victory: a concession.
President Trump has announced his plans for both recounts and court battles over the election results. He has asserted on Twitter that ballots in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia were counted fraudulently. Trump has called the absentee and mail-in ballots bogus, with little to no evidence to back up this claim. Trump’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani held a press conference outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping—no relation to the hotel—where he repeated the administration’s talking points; he accused Pennsylvania election officials of not allowing Trump poll watchers to inspect the ballots. He claimed that these ballots were intentionally either misrepresented or completely made up. Guiliani pledged not only to bring inquiries into these alleged frauds but into multiple other accusations of fraud as well.
Former George H.W. Bush attorney Barry Richard, who was a major player in infamous fights over the 2000 election, has said that these two events do not possess a lot in common.
“In 2000, there was clearly a problem with the defective ballots. Nobody was claiming fraud or improprieties. It was all about how we made sure everybody’s vote counted,” Richard said.
The majority of President Trump’s own aides have privately admitted little chance of a successful reversal of the current election.
In the famous Wisconsin 2016 recount, the recount resulted in Trump’s lead over Hillary Clinton increasing by 131 votes. Trump would need reversals in not just one state, but would need complete reversals in all five states where he is bringing lawsuits. It is highly unlikely he will have a successful recount in any of the states and extremely unlikely in all of the states. Election results are expected to be officially certified by late November, and Biden is expected to assume the presidency in January.
The major remaining issue is public trust. According to a recent poll, over 70% of Republicans believe the election was unfair, fraudulent, or that Trump was somehow cheated out of a victory. This, despite no evidence capable to certify these assertions, and Trump’s failure to follow the political tradition of concession, while not illegal, leaves the country far more susceptible to distrust of public institutions and the very base of democracy. Biden assured supporters that the current administration’s refusal to help does not affect the transition process, and that he considered the lack of a concession an “embarrassment” to the Trump administration. It is unknown as of now if President Trump has any plans on eventually conceding or if he shall forever refer to the 2020 election as fraudulent and stolen.