You’re Fired!

With Multiple Battleground State Losses in the Final Count of Election Results, Americans Give President Trump the Heave-ho

Photo: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, 2016.

American voters fired Donald Trump as President in a repudiation of his handling of the coronavirus disease pandemic and divisive politics over the past four years. The announcement comes as a shock to hardly anyone but perhaps Trump, who considers himself a jobs creator and whose acerbic personality and catchphrase, “You’re fired!” from the reality TV show The Apprentice, brought him greater notoriety and ultimately the chief position at the White House. In a nail-biting finish, former Vice President now President-elect Joe Biden clinched the presidency from Trump, achieving the required 270 electoral votes with a key win in Pennsylvania and outstanding results in four other states that are neck and neck. Trump joins a short list of 10 other Presidents who were unable to serve a second term.  

While many states were ill-prepared to handle the large volume of mailed-in ballots due to the ongoing pandemic, which has so far claimed 236,000 American lives, of the disputed states, only Georgia received less than a B Grade by the Brookings Institution for its readiness. The unprecedented election, which saw the highest voter turnout in history with 160 million votes, was too close to call on Election Day. More than 103 million people either voted early by mail or in-person, which together was 74 percent of the total number of votes cast in the presidential election of 2016. At midnight on Election Day, Biden led the president 205 – 132 in electoral votes with officials unable to call the race in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In all five states Trump had a significant lead with a higher in-person turnout among Republican voters. The gap in the remaining states soon diminished over the proceeding days with former Vice President Biden receiving a greater representation of ballots cast by mail. In the lead up to the general election Trump was against vote-by-mail and didn’t encourage his supporters to do so. The president still holds a small lead only in North Carolina.

In a nationally televised speech aired on Thursday, President Trump again made baseless claims of voter fraud and has suggested that he wants to have the Supreme Court intervene. Although his legal team has filed various lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, so far, they have presented no hard evidence. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California have been the only two top GOP members of Congress to support the President’s assertions. Judges in both Georgia and Michigan have since tossed out the lawsuits. In the Pennsylvania case, Supreme Court Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. stepped in and temporarily granted the Pennsylvania GOP request to secure ballots mailed before the election but received after November 3rd, which the Pennsylvania Secretary of State had already done. The request by the Trump team showed a lack of confidence in Pennsylvania’s handling of the ballot count, which went off without any significant incident. 

The Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates, in an Associated Press (AP) interview, suggested the President’s legal challenges are incoherent, “What makes these charades especially pathetic is that while Trump is demanding recounts in places he has already lost, he’s simultaneously engaged in fruitless attempts to halt the counting of votes in other states in which he’s on the road to defeat.”

According to the AP, Trumps’ legal team will request a recount in Wisconsin. So far, the only state to declare that they will have a recount is Georgia, whose election was overseen by a Republican appointed state Secretary, if either Presidential candidate requests it if the margin of defeat is at or less than half of a percentage point—the requirement to make such a request. 

Winning both the popular vote by a differential of greater than 4 million votes (about 1 million higher than Hillary Clinton) and 273 electoral votes makes Biden the clear winner. California Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s pick for Vice President, becomes the first woman to ascend to the job and the first Black woman of Jamaican and Indian descent. Although Trump, known for being a sore loser, has vowed to contest the election as far as he legally can, the U.S. Constitution requires a peaceful transition of power, which is already happening by law between the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Biden’s campaign team. Without any legal standing, President Trump must vacate the White House come January 20th where the new president will be sworn in.

For the LGBTQ community, a Biden presidency is a significant win. In the last four years, the Trump administration put into place various policies that erode the rights of members of the LGBTQ community. Among them, Trump opposed the Equality Act which would provide consistent anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ folks across the board in various areas of life, including employment, education, housing, credit, public spaces and services. The measure passed the House but stalled in the Senate; Trump has appointed an alarming number of judges with anti-LGBTQ records throughout the various levels of the legal system, such as Supreme Court Justices Coney Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and federal appointees Bounds, Kacsmaryk, Mateer and Vitter; The administration created a policy that effectively bans transgender people from serving openly in the military despite the lack of GOP support; The Departments of Education and Justice eliminated Obama-era protections to prevent schools from treating trans kids inconsistent with the gender they identify with; and the administration’s continued efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act threaten the healthcare of over 130 million Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions like HIV that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community.

For his part, Biden’s record on LGBTQ rights over his 40-year Senate career had been troubling until a reversal in the last few years. In the early 90s he voted to block the immigration of HIV+ people into the United States. He supported the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy that kicked out 14,500 openly gay members out of active service from the military. He voted for but later opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in the mid 1990s that defined marriage “as only a legal union between a man and woman as husband and wife.” And throughout the 2008 presidential elections, he refused to back gay marriage publicly but was in favor of civil unions. While he may have not been the chief architect of these policies that were popular early in his political life, they caused a lot of harm to very many LGBTQ Americans for decades.

On Friday night Biden called for civility in a nationally televised broadcast without declaring himself the winner and to begin efforts to repair the harm done by the ousted president accused of mismanaging the response to the pandemic, “We have to put the anger and the demonization behind us. It’s time for us to come together as a nation to heal. It’s not going to be easy. We have to try. My responsibility as president will be to represent the whole nation. And I want you to know that I will work as hard for those who voted against me as those who voted for me.”

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