When I first wrote this column, the date was Nov. 10. As I revise, the election was held two weeks ago, and Joe Biden crossed the 270 electoral votes threshold on Saturday, Nov. 7. Biden will have won the popular vote by over 5 million votes when the counting is finalized. Unfortunately, the unfolding drama of post-election events is a sad commentary on our society. My fervent hope is that by the time this column is published, it may seem irrelevant. My fear is that it will not.
The first issue that should concern us all is the president’s continued attempts to undermine the sanctity of our electoral process. When Trump sows seeds of doubt in our elections, he is permanently damaging trust in our time-honored institutions that even weathered a Civil War.
Let us be clear: unfounded tweets making unproven claims of voter fraud harms our country. Threats of legal action further exacerbates an already divided nation. It is imperative we understand that courts require evidence in order to act. Courts around the nation have thrown out these frivolous lawsuits because the administration’s lawyers have provided no proof of wrongdoing. Richard Pilger, the Justice Department’s top election crimes prosecutor, recently resigned in protest because of William Barr’s insistence on continued investigations. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency declared this the most secure election in history.
More disturbing is the president’s refusal to concede the election so a smooth transition of power can unfold the way it is supposed to. The nonpartisan General Services Administration is tasked with ensuring the transition between administrations. Unfortunately, the GSA has been ordered to not “ascertain” or recognize the Biden victory, potentially resulting in devastating consequences.
The current administration’s chaotic lack of strategy or coherent response has caused the COVID-19 outbreak to explode across the country. Biden has already formed a coronavirus response team with some of the country’s leading scientists and public health experts. They are ready to go to work now. Allowing coordination between the current and incoming teams will save lives, especially when it comes to rolling out a vaccine. The Trump administration’s unwillingness to work with the Biden team will delay the distribution of the vaccine and will cost American lives.
Equally chilling is the office of the director of national intelligence’s inability to deliver the president’s daily brief to Biden. As former vice president, he certainly has the security clearance. However, not supplying the daily brief limits Biden’s knowledge of the current threats to national security. In the 2000 disputed election, George Bush did not begin the transition process until December. This was found to be a factor in our failure to be prepared for the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2008 the outgoing Bush administration worked closely with the incoming Obama team to ensure a strong defense to guard against active national security threats. In fact, every former Department of Homeland Security chief, from both parties, signed a letter stating that delaying the recognition of Biden’s victory and the required transition puts our country at risk. Instead, we have chaos in the Department of Defense due to firings, resignations, and appointments of unqualified Trump loyalists.
The contrast between President-elect Biden and Donald Trump could not be starker. Biden is already working on strengthening our nation. Equally important is his call for unity and healing. On the other hand, what is Trump doing? His refusal to commit to the peaceful transfer of power is the antithesis of our American ideals.
Perhaps graciously conceding defeat was too much to expect, but fanning the flames of division, discord and civil unrest is unacceptable. Equally appalling is the Republican acquiescence in Congress to this dangerously horrid behavior from a sitting president. Only four senators have had the moral courage to congratulate Biden on his win. The rest are willing to turn a blind eye to this radical departure from our democratic principals and heritage.
The sad truth is that the president’s acrimony and deceit filters throughout our nation, and the ripples are felt right here in Carroll County. Too many people would rather repeat conspiracy theories and disinformation than acknowledge the facts. Too many are willing to embrace the politics of division than the hope of unity. My nephew recently asked me if we were heading toward a second Civil War. My answer is a firm “no” because I believe Americans are better than that. I hope by the time this column is published, we will have moved ahead towards building a better future.
Tom Scanlan writes from Westminster. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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