The world has been reviving from the pandemic. Among other things, US elections have been one of the most anticipated events of the year. The United States (US) is one of the oldest democracies in the world. There was a lot of drama surrounding the election this year. Nevertheless, the institutions in the country came to the rescue. They were unbiased and made constitutional decisions, unlike the Indian counterparts. The largest democracy in the world has a lot to learn from the oldest democracy. For instance, the press in the United States was the most important factor in influencing the verdict. It was the rescuer of democracy. The judiciary in the country worked to their full potential and efficiency. They saved the country’s reputation. Not only the people of the United States but the whole world was waiting with bated breath for the verdict. The country was going through the lowest point in its policy-making regime during President Trump’s tenure, similar to that of India. Finally, there has been a change in leadership. Hopefully, this should affect the policies as well.
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US political system is mainly dominated by two parties: Republicans and Democrats. The presidential election was set to happen on November 3rd. President Trump proposed for postponement of the elections due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the elections were conducted as planned. The votes were taken from mid-September, and almost 96 million votes were received by Monday. The counting started on November 3rd. Joe Biden was declared as the President-elect. Trump made baseless allegations of fraud in the elections after the ground-breaking victory. He declared himself the winner. He damaged the integrity of the elections. Many lawsuits were filed regarding the victory in the swing states by the Trump supporters in weeks after the election. They lost all the cases. Republicans started to accept the Democrats’ victory. Biden’s victory was confirmed by the vote of the Electoral College. But there are still ongoing petitions. Trump is adamant about not leaving the White House even on Inauguration Day.
With all the political drama going on, it is hard to say whether there will be a smooth transition. There are a lot of processes involved in the presidential election. Transition is the last part of the process before inauguration day. Transition involves the outgoing President welcoming the President-elect. The outgoing President concedes and gives a tour of the White House, which symbolically starts the process. This is very helpful for the new administration to be admitted to their new positions. Thousands of federal jobs need shifting. This is all done in the transition period of approximately two and a half months. This is done to have a smooth continuity and as a sign of change. The transition starts right after the election day and ends in January on inauguration day. During the gap, the President-elect and the team have to go through a lot of critical data regarding the country. It is one of the most crucial steps of American Democracy. But at the end of the day, it is just a tradition.
This year President Trump refused to concede after the election result. He said that he would hold the position as he won the elections. Through his allegation, he undermined democracy. He left no stone unturned to get re-elected. He approached the Court. Although the judiciary did a tremendous job on issuing orders, it never condemned Trump’s conduct after the elections. The judiciary was projected as the machinery of the rule of law. But it was not a true victory for the rule of law. The election of the judges played a crucial role in these decisions. All the cases had a disappointing consequence for Trump but he wanted the judges to back him up. All this hampered the smooth transition. At the end of the day, the question remains, why does smooth transition matter, when it is just a tradition as it has some seriously long-lasting effects. This year the process started after three weeks, due to Trump’s antics. This is going to have devastating consequences on the administration.
The transition was supposed to start immediately after the election so that the new roles are taken up efficiently. This year most of the data regarding pandemic and vaccine had been blocked due to these interventions. The transition period was four months in the beginning. But it was reduced as this period is being used for some personal and political purposes. This is not the first time this process has been hampered. The other times it is due to legitimate reasons like the president-elect was not formally declared as a winner. For instance, in 2000 the winner was not clear until mid-December and the process had been rushed. Later this was shown as one of the causes of the 9/11 attacks. These interventions devalue the process, which is very much required for efficient administration. The effects of this may range from a delay in assuming the posts to serious security breaches. Hopefully, Trump should concede by now rather than threatening not to leave. He should understand that living in the White House does not guarantee power. The US administration does not dare to repeat the mistakes, but only time can tell the effects of this delay. The President and his team are putting incomplete efforts to make it a smooth transition. They have been in meetings all day long listening to critical data, but the Trump administration has been delaying the formal process of transition. Trump did not concede formally, due to which many meetings have been halted with the defense department.
Due to the devastating effects of interventions in the transition period, it is highly unlikely for other countries to adopt such a process. India especially has a lot on the political plate without any of these traditions. The scale of jobs and governmental positions are high in India as well, such a transition process would help the government. But knowing the political drama existing in the country, it is very hard to implement it. Besides, the independence of institutions and freedom of speech has become scarce in the country to waste it on traditions.
Although this transition process is not a rule, it has proved more of a disadvantage to the governmental organizations and institutions. But it is very much necessary to keep the government running. The interventions bring up new challenges for the institutions and the rule of law. The Constitution of the United States does not give clarity on the process. The people, media, and institutions should work in harmony to uphold democracy. There is no such idol model for democracy.
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