Popcorn, Candy, And Other Concessions

The ending of the election finale, explained


Irem Inan

As you watch the Trump-Biden transition, grab some popcorn — it’s the only concession experts forecast for 2020.

Irem Inan, Reporter

The many who’ve been mourning the temporary loss of movie theatres this year might find comfort in pulling a chair up to the White House lawn and watching a picture that would leave Hitchcock on the edge of his seat unfold. Grab some popcorn, too — it’s the only concession experts forecast for 2020.

The general election left room for home theatre, too. From election day (Nov. 3) to results day (Nov. 7), millions of people didn’t dare part with their television. It’s a justified fear: you blink and Texas flips. But this anxiety didn’t discriminate between political parties, or, as it turns out, countries. 

“[The things your president says] are heard and felt by people across the globe,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Nov. 8. “And, similarly, there’s a very good reason why many of us across the globe have been glued to CNN since Tuesday. Because who wins this election — who becomes president — matters.”

Mayor Khan isn’t the only foreign politician who congratulated president-elect Joe Biden on his victory. The list is currently made up of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Canada), Prime Minister Boris Johnson (United Kingdom), President Emmanuel Macron (France), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), Prime Minister Micheál Martin (Ireland), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Saudi Arabia), Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Australia), President Moon Jae-in (South Korea), and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Japan). The one major leader Biden hasn’t heard back from is President Donald Trump (United States).

“He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!” Trump shared on Twitter on Nov. 15. “We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” 

“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared five days prior. These statements have only been fueling a fire that many fear could engulf and overwhelm the government.

But despite global worries, Trump’s refusal to concede is not expected to be a lasting threat to American democracy. The right of a president-elect to take office as of Jan. 20 at the end of their predecessor’s term is defended by the 20th Amendment.

It’s been defended by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter, too: “The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”

However, Trump’s response could have lasting consequences beyond the surface level. He has been refusing to let Biden in on intelligence briefings against the advice of Republican senators and other high-ranking members of his party. 

“The briefings he’s been getting as a candidate should continue. I think he should continue to get what he’s been getting and then let’s get on with the resolutions on some of these disputes,” Missouri Senator Josh Hawley told reporters.

Biden has resorted to meeting with former security officials whom he worked with under the Obama administration. His COVID-19 advisory board has also expressed worry about the repercussions this could have on the pandemic. If Trump doesn’t allow Biden’s team to access vital information about vaccine distribution and case counts, the nation could face a longer quarantine, and a harsher second wave.

The anxiety felt by Republicans and Democrats alike proves this is no longer a partisan issue. By withholding critical information from the president-elect, Trump is creating a national security risk. For example: Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller recently confirmed that the Trump administration plans to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan and Iraq before Biden’s inauguration. Longtime members of his party, Senators Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell, have warned him that the decision is unwise, especially this close to the switch in power. It was only Nov. 17 that the US embassy in Baghdad suffered a missile attack, which resulted in the casualty of a child and several civilians being wounded. Despite these warnings and circumstances, Trump plans to continue with the withdrawal on Jan. 15, 2021, and without informing Biden on the classified details not available to the media and general public.

This is only one possibility that could have disastrous consequences — what’s left to be said about cyberattacks from Russia, the reforms in Hong Kong, and rising tensions between the US and North Korea? Whatever it is, Biden won’t be able to hear it until Trump concedes the election.

Moreover, some of the fear is coming from within Trump’s cabinet. In a classified memo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper conveyed that the US chain of command (comprised of the Commander-in-chief, Secretary of Defense, the three military departments, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff) unanimously urged against the withdrawal. The memo was delivered in early November. Later, on Nov. 9, Esper was fired and replaced with Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller, effective immediately. While Esper was the first to suffer post-election wrath, he may not be the last. On Nov. 17, Trump also terminated Director of Homeland Security Chris Krebs for disputing his theories about voter fraud.

Where Trump has been firing, Biden has been hiring. Immediately following an election, a president-elect is expected to assemble a transition team. However, in order for this process to begin, the General Services Administration must acknowledge the winner and allocate funds to their team. Administrator Emily Murphy has refused to do recognize Biden as president-elect, and consequently blocked the transition effort.

Biden maintains confidence that this won’t harm his presidency, and found a way to move forward without government funds. On Nov. 9, his team revealed the current members of the Biden-Harris transition team. Many of them were revealed to be working as volunteers, while some are being paid by donations Biden’s team has collected from supporters. 

The finance chair of the Democratic National Committee and the finance chair of Biden’s team have sent out emails to supporters in an attempt to gather this money. They’re not accepting donations from political action committees, lobbyists, fossil fuel executives, or similar corporate interests.

Come January, the country could be suffering at many angles due to voluntary inaction from the Trump administration. Whether it will mostly pose a threat to democracy; national security; health; jobs of high-ranking officials; or funding the transition of power remains to be seen. As it stands, all of these factors are at risk. But what cannot be denied is that the pattern of extreme steps the Biden-Harris campaign has had to take in response to Trump’s refusal to concede is unprecedented. Cindy McCain, the wife of former presidential candidate and Senator John McCain, spoke out in regards to this.

“I think that [McCain’s concession speech] was a very important speech because it was a concession speech, but the manner in which it was given…” she said on CNN. “I really, truly hope, that this president stays on the right side of history, but also, with all that said, does what’s right for the country.”

Senator McCain passed away in August 2018. Although both she and her husband have been longtime members of the Republican party, Mrs. McCain endorsed Biden in the 2020 election, and believes that Mr. McCain would have, too. A clip of his concession speech to Obama in the 2008 presidential election was broadcast during her appearance on the news network. 

“Senator Obama and I have had our differences, and he has prevailed,” McCain declared 12 years ago, this month. “No doubt, many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him, tonight, to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me, to join me — in not just congratulating him — but offering our next president our good-will and earnest effort to find ways to come together.”

It’s a movie flashback scene that doesn’t need to be rendered black-and-white in order to show a stark contrast between then and now. But one way or another, on Jan. 20, political officials from both sides confirm that the US will see a transition to a Biden presidency, whether it be through the assistance of the Secret Service, or a voluntary exit. Biden is moving forward with this in mind, and has already begun listing promises for his first 100 days in office.

The “first 100 days” is a phrase coined by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Presidents since have attempted to follow his precedent in making promises for their first 100 days. Over time, it has become a benchmark for how a president will perform for the remainder of their term. 

Biden has promised that pre-inauguration, he will assemble a coronavirus taskforce to push for COVID-19 laws on his first day. Furthermore, he plans to rejoin the World Health Organization, which Trump cut ties with on July 8. The US also officially withdrew from the Paris Agreement officially on Nov. 4, but this won’t last, either — Biden is determined to re-enter that agreement as soon as possible. In an effort to establish the US as a world leader against climate change, he will be going forward with his $2 trillion environmental plan to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

He also plans to invest up to $300 million on reforming the police and criminal justice systems. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy could achieve permanence as early as his first day. Simultaneously, he’ll be creating a task force to reunite families divided at the Mexican border. What’s become known as the “Muslim ban” could also see an end in the first 100 days.

If any of this brings a sense of déjà vu, it could be because a majority of Biden’s promises are overturning decisions Trump put in place. The period from Jan. 21, 2021, to May 1, 2021, could play the last four years of the Trump administration in reverse. Whatever’s in queue, it’s certain that the whole world will be watching.