The electoral college officially voted on last Monday to make Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States, thus formaliying his victory. Usually, the electoral college meeting is a very quiet event. But this year as one presidential candidate refused to concede made it into a major electoral event. The Electoral College had cast 306 votes for Biden and 232 for Trump, thus officially cementing his win. The Electoral college votes will now be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month and the results will be approved on January 6 and Joe Biden will be inaugurated as President on January 20. However, this is not the end of the debate and discussions on the 2020 election in view of the crisis faced by the American system of democracy and its future.
President Trump has spent weeks attempting to discredit the election results and mobilised his supporters to "stop the steal", a rallying cry based on his accusations of widespread electoral fraud while at the same time trafficking in incitement of violence. Pro-Trump supporters were engaged in full-scale brawl with anti-Trump supporters resulting in injuries in Washington and other cities in the US. Despite an unanimous ruling by the US Supreme Court denying the law suit to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election, Donald Trump continues to insist that he had actually won the November 3 vote.
In fact, two thirds of the Republican Conference do not recognise Joe Biden as the President elect. Some members of the House of Representatives such as Mo Brooks and others have signaled their intention to lodge formal challenges to the electoral vote when it is tallied in Congress on January 6. But they are unlikely to succeed. Overall strategy of Trump supporters appears to continue to keep their all legal options open to delegitimise the Biden presidency.
It is not Trump alone, 126 Republican members of Congress and 18 state attorney generals with full legal background signed an amicus challenging the election of Joe Biden as President elect suggesting that Trump, not Biden, actually won the election. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling against the lawsuit, only one among these people was found to consider the vote by the Electoral College as decisive.
Trump also followed through with a tweet, calling the Supreme Court decision a "disgraceful miscarriage of justice", further adding "we have just begun to fight". But the most extreme denunciation against Supreme Court ruling came from Alan West, Chairman of the Texas Republican Party and a former Congressman declaring that that the decision would have farreaching ramifications for the future of the constitutional republic.
The White House held its first press briefing on Tuesday after the electoral college confirmed Joe Biden as the next President of the country. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to acknowledge Biden as President elect and suggested Trump could still reverse the results of the election and serve a second term. Trump has till now refused to concede the election and is continuing to make claims of voter fraud. President Trump and the vast majority of Republicans are still refusing to acknowledge Joe Biden as President-elect even after his victory was confirmed by the Electoral college vote on Monday.
However, the Electoral college vote likely marks the end of President Trump's wide-ranging attempts to remain in power. His legal team and allies also know that the Electoral College vote is irreversible. That irreversibility is clearly reflected in his staunch supporter and political ally Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognising Joe Biden as the President elect for the first time in a speech delivered on the floor of the Senate. "Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield different result" McConnell said, "But our system of government has the process to determine who will be sworn in on January the 20th. The Electoral College has spoken".
Mitch McConnell also listed the "accomplishments" of the Trump Administration over the past four years - including praise for Trump's handling of the corona virus vaccine and the "economic prosperity" that existed before the pandemic hit. But White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to comment on Trump's reaction to Mitch McConnell and Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating Biden. But President Trump himself reacted on Twitter lashing out at McConnell for congratulating Biden and recognising him as President elect. Trump has not publicly acknowledged his loss.
While Biden's Electoral College victory touched off a very modest surge in recognition from Republicans in Congress both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, most Republicans in Congress have remained silent on the election, with several senators and House members even explicitly refusing to acknowledge Biden.
Joe Biden, hours after the Electoral College made his victory over Trump official, gave a 15 minute nationally televised speech on Monday night to mark the occasion of his official victory. He declared "the rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people prevailed". He further added, "The democracy pushed, tested, threatened, proved to be resilient, true and strong". It appears Biden tried to reassert confidence in the US system of democracy and went on to say "The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or abuse of power, can extinguish that flame".
But his demeanor proved rather the opposite. He was wheezing and coughing throughout his speech. He was very defensive and failed to explain if American democracy is so strong, why he has to make such a speech defending the legitimacy of his victory with a margin of seven million votes.
In fact, it is quite unprecedented for a President elect to make speech on such an occasion. For most of American history the vote in the Electoral College has been fairly routine, verging on a non-event. Also, the process, according to Biden's own account, that led to the vote in the Electoral College further exposed the fragility of the American democratic system, not its strength and resilience. Biden clearly pointed out that Trump campaign tried to bully and intimidate election officials and ordinary election workers around the country.
Biden also referred to Trump's unprecedented effort to overturn the election results through legal means and said, "This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials and one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote and lost each and every one of states whose votes they were trying to reverse. It's a position so extreme, we have never seen it before". And then he called it "a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rules of law and refused to honour our Constitution".
Biden declared it was time to "turn the page, to unite, to heal''. This call to unity is faced with challenges from rising white supremacist and fascist forces as reflected in Trump's ability to carry much of the country with him and the political party that he represents win a resounding victory at every level save the White House.
The election further reveals the extreme fragility of the US democratic system. The malaise cuts much deeper; voting now in the US does not guarantee democracy. In fact, 74 million Americans who voted for Trump used their voting right in their attempt to deny that very same right to non-white Americans.
Democracy in America designed by the founding fathers of the nation has a very problematic history. In many ways the present is an echo of the past, the past merely a prologue to the present. Political, economic and social tensions in the US has reached a point where they are short circuiting the safety switches of the American democratic system despite President elect Biden's call for bipartisan collaboration.
Trump and his political allies are planning their comeback which could mean preventing millions of Americans from voting. Trump almost won a second term despite his handling of the corona virus and the handicap of severe economic downturn. The 2020 election results clearly indicate millions of Americans would rather have autocracy or plutocracy than democracy. This surely reveals something quite utterly problematic the way the American style of democracy functions.
Now with Joe Biden at the helm, notwithstanding the future of American democracy, the Washington D.C establishment can take comfort that one of their insiders will run the show now. Biden has already called for bipartisan collaboration. In his Monday evening speech he said, "it's time for us to leave the angry, bitter politics of division behind us". The message of bipartisanship has been endorsed by the Democratic Party's dominant corporate faction's mouthpiece New York Times under the heading "Build on Common Ground", but on foreign policy issue the paper endorsed that the administration "needs to take a tough line on dealing with China". In a similar vein the Washington Post also suggested that the selection of his cabinet members with the pro-establishment background, especially those with close connections with the military industrial complex and the Wall Street, would make many in the Republican Party comfortable to collaborate with the Biden Administration.
Now political reports indicate Biden has further expanded his transition team to include veterans from Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co, Facebook and Google over and above assembling of members already from the national security and financial establishment.
While the American Empire is not yet in its last days, nor the American style fascism is around the corner in the immediate future, the people Biden has gathered around him are not the people most likely to defend democratic rights against the fascist threat posed by Trump and his furious supporters.