Roar writer Ishaan Rahman argues how US President-elect Joe Biden must combat misinformation to consolidate Democrats’ political victory.
On November 7th, most major American news networks called the 2020 Presidential Election for former Vice President Joe Biden. If all goes according to plan, he will be President on January 20th, alongside a Vice President Kamala Harris. But the defeated President Donald Trump is yet to concede and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani is hunting for “evidence” that Democrats somehow stole the election.
To start, let’s make one point clear: there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud. It’s possible to write countless articles refuting each bogus claim the White House throws at us, as fact-checkers have righteously done. Though Christopher Hitchens statement that “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence” also broadly applies here. Conservative and liberal judges alike have dismissed Giuliani’s allegations as baseless and many elected Republicans in Georgia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have taken the same position.
Based on this, it is inevitable that Trump’s lawsuits will fail. However, that does not change the fact that the President won in key battleground states and, as of now, has over 70-million votes. Trump may have lost but ‘Trumpism’ is not a fluke from 2016; it’s real. So what does this mean for Biden’s transition into the White House? Well the burden now falls on him to unite the country with sensible, moderate governance.
First, the new administration must completely ignore Trump. Engaging with the outgoing President only gives him credibility and the attention he desperately craves. Trump has long reduced himself to the level of a braindead, Russia-loving internet troll and, now that he has lost the election, he should be treated as such.
This rule applies to the media too. No credible news organisation should attend Giuliani’s press conferences, publish articles on his lawsuits or give a platform to any gun-toting Trump protestors. Not least because 80% of Americans believe that Biden is the rightful winner of the election, including two-thirds of Republicans, but also misinformation should never have a platform regardless of how popular it may be. Twitter and other social media groups should also strongly consider banning those who continue to deliberately spread misinformation, including Trump.
Some will call this extreme but it’s worth noting that, while the President has a right to free speech as per the First Amendment, he does not have a right to a platform and everyone should work to deprive him of one.
This continues onto the second point: create a contrast between the chaos, incompetence and anti-democratic Trump administration and an organised, sensible Biden team. While Trump bangs away at his phone on Twitter, Biden should continue to brief himself on the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. As Giuliani launches bogus lawsuits that are immediately tossed out, the President-elect should be focusing on economic recovery. These are bread-and-butter issues which the vast majority of Americans care about, not conspiracy theories.
Professor Allan Lichtman, who has accurately predicted every Presidential Election since 1980, has said that Americans are rarely fooled by political rhetoric but they decide their vote based on how well they feel the incumbent has governed. If Trump continues to drag down the GOP into a democracy-hating, anti-American personality cult while Biden tackles Covid-19 and helps the economy recover, then the Democrats’ political future will be bright.
Obviously, good governance is easier said than done and Biden has to be pragmatic. That means reaching compromises with incumbent Republicans, many of whom object to Trump’s cries of a rigged election. While the Republicans maintain a slim majority in the Senate, Biden has a unique ability to reach out to moderates in both parties and come to a compromise.
This may anger more progressive Democrats who were hoping for a staunchly left-wing platform, including aggressive climate action, universal healthcare and defunding police. However, Biden won by reaching out to all corners of the American populace, including former Republicans, senior citizens and working-class white voters that are usually not the typical liberal voter. His wins in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia demonstrate that.
The most obvious issue that some Republicans can support is Covid-19 relief. Trump’s neglect of the pandemic is arguably the greatest failure of his Presidency, with America now having a death rate higher than most developed nations. Biden can find common ground with moderate Republicans, such as Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, to better fund hospitals, equipment and to eventually distribute a vaccine.
America’s standing in the world is also at stake with Russia, China, North Korea and Iran more confident than ever after the Trump Administration’s dictator-friendly policies. Biden can work with Republicans to reassert America’s commitment to NATO and dominance in the Middle East and Latin America.
Even Trump’s former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, believes that his boss was incompetent and should welcome a Democratic President who re-engages with allies. Some Republican Senators now also believe that Biden should have access to classified intelligence briefings, signalling that they are ready to move on.
It’s clear that Joe Biden and the Democrats won the election. Now, the President-elect must cut through the noise of the Trump administration’s conspiracies and focus on governing for all Americans.