USA: What the hell’s the presidency for?
Though it has of course been dismissed, the legal action led by seventeen US states joining ranks with Texas to try to invalidate the election of Joseph Biden at the Supreme Court is no less dangerous and toxic to the country’s democracy thanks to the uproar it has created. There are also about 130 congressmen and women, including more than half of all Republican members of the House of Representatives, who have rushed to support this appeal to the Supreme Court. Among these signatories, who have joined Texas to contest the result of the Presidential Election at the highest court in the land, there are of course some divisive characters, but also some politicians deemed ‘moderate’. However, as proof of just how absurd this stranglehold of radicalism is on the Republican Party, seventeen of the signatories have just been elected in states whose results they are contesting. Elected officials are therefore directly calling into question the legitimacy of their own victory and calling for their own appointments to be invalidated!
How is it that aresponsible party that contributed greatly to the very creation of the modern United States of America can today come to be eroding away the foundations of a Democracy that – as we all know – is built on the confidence of its citizens in the results of its elections? This Party – that is not backing down in the life-and-death fight that is shining a light on its hatred of the other side – is on the verge of establishing a very dangerous precedent for America’s democratic way of life. It now seems a long time ago, when graceful ‘concessions’ were made, an act that meant an unsuccessful candidate would publicly acknowledge their defeat. This is not written in law but it does reaffirm and serve as a reminder of the sacred nature of the democratic process, meant to exceed and even transcend the quarrels of the people. But by denying the legitimacy of Biden’s win, the Republicans are actively working to make the Federal government dysfunctional across all of its branches. As one would expect, Donald Trump will be the fourth US President to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration ceremony, after John Adams in 1801, John Quincy Adams in 1829 and Andrew Johnson in 1869.
In such a pernicious climate, the government of comfort and ease that is being pieced together around and by Biden seems to be lacking inspiration. After having led a sluggish, low-level campaign, primarily concerned with taking the least amount of risk possible, he must now foster solidarity, but above all enthusiasm. While it is undeniably a positive that he is opting for people of diverse backgrounds, his choices for strategic positions have overall been based on people, admittedly with recognised abilities, but also who have a previous rapport and a certain familiarity with their future President. This ‘cabinet’ that from 20th January will be appointed to lead the United States seems to be oddly lacking in intellectual consistency in a fractious era for the country when it has a vital need for strong initiatives. Otherwise, as Lyndon Johnson ostentatiously declared to his advisors as he took on the Presidency in 1963, “what the hell’s the Presidency for” if it doesn’t tackle the biggest issues head on?