Donald Trump will continue to make all the fuss he wants between now and Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is sworn in at noon, and the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14 will surely be an opportunity for him to do just that. The man has tweeted 550 times since Nov. 3, three-quarters of which disputed the election results, while the country, struggling with COVID-19, remains on fire. Having denied the voters’ decision since the election, the very late green light that he finally gave to the transition process on Monday evening is nonetheless, for him, only meant to comply with a mechanism that is essential to a cohesive democracy that he finds so repugnant. He still does not recognize his defeat, even while acknowledging it.
As a brief commentary on the context of state enslavement in which this transition is taking place, General Services Administration Director Emily Murphy, responsible for managing the transition of power, announced earlier in the day that the process, which should have begun much earlier, would be launched independently. But Trump himself contradicted the announcement that the process was independent, and claimed to be acting in the country’s “best interest,” later indicating he had recommended the GSA proceed. This is one of the many ways this president has managed to contaminate institutions with a high degree of politicization and division.
The transition process allows Biden’s team to begin investing in the machinery of government — its departments and agencies — and to benefit from transition funding. On Tuesday afternoon, the White House went a step further by agreeing to give Biden access to the crucial President’s Daily Brief, which contains highly sensitive intelligence information and analysis. The fact that the sharing of this document with his successor is at the sole discretion of the outgoing president is an aberration.
In recent days, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been a faithful Republican Party supporter for some time, characterized Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election results as futile. Trump had to be pressured by big business and finance before giving in, and Trump’s chief attorney, Rudy Giuliani, publicly admitted that he “exaggerated a bit” about the extent of election fraud before the president would agree to pack his bags and go elsewhere to preach his national populist credo. The certification of Michigan’s results on Monday was the nail in the coffin.
The relief of the 80 million Americans who voted Democrat has been inevitably justified, especially since the Cabinet which Biden is forging under the seal of diversity and parity is in stark contrast to the Cabinet which prevailed under Trump. Biden has chosen Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino to serve as secretary of homeland security; Avril Haines, as the first woman director of national intelligence, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an African American diplomat as ambassador to the United Nations. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. signatory to the Paris climate agreement, will serve as the presidential special envoy for climate change. At the Treasury, Janet Yellen, former president of the Federal Reserve and labor law specialist, is expected to be appointed secretary. As his secretary of state, Biden has chosen Antony Blinken, a brilliant man — an expert in trans-Atlantic relations, but a target of recrimination on the left for encouraging then-Sen. Biden to vote in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.
Indeed, a contrast to the Trump administration! But also, what continuity, as so many of these Cabinet experts served under Barack Obama and even Bill Clinton. Certainly, a President Biden would not have gone to play golf like Trump did during the Group of 20 summit of industrial and emerging-market nations held last weekend in Riyadh. But what would and will this champion of regained multilateralism do to guarantee equitable access to treatment and vaccines against COVID-19 at an international level?
While the Democratic victory is exciting, we must not forget that the progressive policy during Obama’s presidency produced mixed results. Nor that Biden, noted by many these days as an old hand in American politics, played an active role in the Democratic Party’s slide to the center-right beginning in the 1990s with a bias toward the catechism of free trade and the precepts of deregulation. Instead, it was this Democratic shift, and not just the drift of the Republican Party, that made Trumpism viable.