Under normal circumstances the transition from one American presidency to the next is a pretty unnoticed and recognized. The process of transition is a matter of formal and informal transfers where teams of officials peacefully hand over power.
But this is American politics in 2020, the Trump-Biden transition will not be normal.
President-Elect Joe Biden has finally outright proclaimed victory in the election and made it clear his focus is on being ready for office come Inauguration Day on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
That can’t be exactly expected because all of the noise coming from the current president, administration officials and his loyal supporters. This could be America’s version of a Robert Mugabe-like handover. There are already screams of flawed processes, legal challenges of the outcome and plots to overturn the people’s verdict anyway that they can. The cries of foul play will haunt the country for the coming weeks.
America is divided deeply and the sagas that are unfolding tell two very different stories. One story shows Biden the winner of a fair election and lays out a new path for the country.
The other saga riddled story tells of a discontented President and a band of his supporters throwing out legal threats, violent intimidation and legal remedies. The stories thrust the American system into the world stage.
Americans will have to pick the book and which epistle they choose to believe.
Biden and Harris will find solace in the history-making number of votes their ticket has received and the public validation for their agenda.
Their vision for America has been well documented. They have come out with a clear plan for on COVID-19, on climate change, on race and inequality, on healthcare. On most fronts it is the polar opposite to Donald Trump’s vision that has just shot from the hip without any clear vision.
Biden will face a divided Congress with the Senate in Republican hands, for now at least, and recent history suggesting that can mean nothing but stalemate.
Part of Biden’s sales pitch to the American people was his ability to reach across the aisle during his own decades serving in the Senate. He has struck deals in the past with moderate, centrist Republicans. Polarized factions from both parties have criticized him for not being an extremist.
Biden firmly believes that he can do that as president and has begun to reach out to old friends while making new ones.
If Biden and Harris can do business with enough Republicans, the pair might end up seeing some success. If not, there could be a train wreck and the country ends up in a continued vulnerable stalemate like we have already experienced under Trump.
Much of this depends firmly upon how quickly the newly defeated president and his supporters accept the decision of the American people, and the tensions can be lowered.
Before Biden takes office he will be 78 years-old. His birthday lands on November 20. Biden will be the oldest person ever to assume the presidency.
It is highly unlikely that Trump will leave a positive sounding note to Biden on the desk when he finally is shown the exit door of the White House. Perhaps the only other disgraceful exit that this could be compared to might be Clinton or Nixon—which Trump has marginal similarities of.