Oh, the places you’ll go, Joe

     Before I get into this article, I’d like to congratulate you on making it to the end of this term, be you student, staff or civilian. The term was a bugger enough for me, and I have a stable home environment with plentiful resource access and time, so I can only imagine what some of y’all have been through to make it this far. So, cheers to you; well done!

     For my final article of the term and the last of this series covering the election, I think it prudent to look first to what is still outstanding: President Trump’s concession of the race. While he has every right to air his grievances of vote fraud and irregularity in court, his taking to Twitter to rant about how there is a vast conspiracy to rob him of the election is untoward and quite possibly the most damaging thing to the republic he has yet done whilst in office. No small accomplishment, that.

     If there is fraud, which there is almost undoubtedly some — and by “some” I mean a few votes here and there — in an election wherein 150 million people voted, Trump and his team must prove the fraud and prove it altered the race’s result, not conspiracy-monger without evidence beyond hearsay. 

     I think Andy McCarthy of “National Review” said it best, “On the matter of vote fraud, there is law, and there are facts. We’ll hear plenty about fraud, but we’ll have to remind ourselves to ask: Did it make a difference? Even if the Trump campaign has potential claims in law, they will collapse if, as a matter of fact, they would not affect the outcome of the race.” 

     So should the Trump campaign be able to prove there was undoubtedly voter fraud in Georgia, but it amounts to seven illegal votes, then it matters not, as the result is still the same, with Biden winning the state, albeit with seven fewer votes. I think Biden would be okay with that. 

     In conclusion, Trump, let your lawyers do the talking and come correct with evidence; otherwise, dust off the ol’ IBM electronic typewriter and get to knocking out that concession speech. While it’s not a constitutional requirement to concede, only to have your stuff moved out of the White House by Inauguration Day, it would be much nicer for everyone if Trump would … which probably means he won’t. Oy vey.

     Let’s take a minute to discuss losing elections and the fictions of both the Left and Right in the aftermath of such events. I’m sure you’ve heard from your right-leaning MAGA uncle or grandparent or whomever about how elections are stolen by dead people voting in Chicago or mysterious car trunks full of ballots that just appear from the ether. These are the favored myths of the Right, and they have real purchase. 

     However, the Left has its strain of electoral failure myth, and it is one of “voter suppression” and “foreign interference.” In her failed campaign for the governorship of Georgia, Stacy Abrams trafficked heavily in the myth of suppression. She went so far as to claim that she was the rightful governor of Georgia well after the election. 

      Now she comes to find out that if she helps people register — some 800 k — then things might go Dem’s way.  Hillary did much the same with naming “foreign interference” as the reason the presidency was stolen from her. I’m sorry, but weak Russian memes on Facebook aren’t what lost Hillary that election. 

     It was entirely her odious self that interfered with getting elected. Again, see the point above: just because something happens — voter suppression, illegal votes, etc. — doesn’t mean it matters if the race results are imperceptibly altered on the margin. I’m not saying don’t look for tomfoolery; please do take it to court, but temper expectations of its impact.

     I say all of this as a reminder to both myself and you, good reader, that it is always easier to blame hijinks and bad actors than to accept that our candidate was not the preferred option. We put all of this time, emotion and passion into backing a candidate, and it hurts like all get-out when the electorate rejects them. Far easier and more soothing is it to lash out with fictions than to accept the results. May we act like adults even if our leaders do not. 

      But enough of that. Let us look forward, you and I, into the bright sunlit uplands of a Biden presidency — mostly lit by the reflection from his teeth. Side note: Fake or not, we must now be in the midst of the three consecutively brightest presidential smiles between Obama, Trump and Biden — nevermind the latter two having fake teeth — George Washington must be hella jealous. 

     I was speaking with my uncle — an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Rochester with whom I often spar, as our political views are (perhaps not shockingly) opposed — about what is to come. He asked me what I might look for from a Biden administration, given the Senate is almost certainly going to be 51/49 or greater in the GOP’s favor. 

     My quick answer was, “Nothing, and thankfully so.” I don’t want anything to be done at the federal level, as a general rule, so I am quite content with a split congress and a weak president. 

      Facetiousness aside, though, there are a few items I think that could conceivably be passed, which would be beneficial. For instance, it seems almost certain that Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. Congress should approve agreements with foreign governments, but our presidents are viewed as nigh-on monarchical, so Biden will probably just sign us up and hope to ram it through Congress some other time. 

     All of this to say, if you’re hoping for progress on the climate change policy front, I think the best we can do is quit subsidies to coal and get on the natural gas and nuclear train. 

     “Hwut?” you might be saying. I get it; neither of those are fowl-fricassee-ing windmills or fickle solar panels, so they don’t count as an improvement. But they are. I know incrementalism isn’t sexy, but doing the least harm while adjusting our energy production is most likely to see permanent success. 

     The Biden administration should sit down and figure out a 50 or 100-year plan to go from our current energy production to these intermediary and reliable producers to the eventual renewables. While the nukes are humming along, we can improve our existing designs for the energy of the future, along with bettering the batteries that will be required for the fluctuating outputs of those air and solar mediums. 

     Title IX is another area ripe for improvement. I maintain that campus administrators are not equipped to handle what are, in effect, criminal proceedings. The amount of successful lawsuits against universities for their failure to properly conduct these investigations, which so often turned into mockeries of justice, is evidence enough that schools should hand these matters over to civil authorities. 

      What does a dean or provost know of law? These accusations are serious, life-changing and permanent and should afford a commensurate, impartial hearing. I doubt this will be the tack the Biden administration will take, but it would be nice if they did.

     As for foreign policy, I’m not sure what to expect from Biden beyond joining the Paris Climate Agreement. What I’d like to see is the status quo through the end of the pandemic, a roll-back on tariffs and a pointed response to China’s abuse of the Uighur population, along with some repercussions for China’s early cover-up of the pandemic. 

     The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine will be an initial test of his abilities to balance national interest with demand from foreign leaders. He hasn’t said enough for me to know what exactly he has in mind for much else, so I’ll wait and see. 

     The final, reasonable-for-the-political-realities item I hope to see from Biden is some flim-flamming quiet. He won — as far as we can tell, pre-electoral vote — because he is not Donald Trump. Trump loved attention; may Biden eschew the limelight at every turn. 

      I hope he plays a lot of golf, takes long naps and turns the White House into the boujie-est assisted living facility this side of the Florida border. If something needs to be said, just have Kamala do it. The “Yass queen” quota will be fulfilled for the Twitterati, and Biden needn’t rouse himself from his pudding cup dinner date with Bernie. 

      In the words of Porky Pig, “That’s all folks.” I hope you’ve enjoyed Fariba’s and my thoughts throughout this term. It was a pleasure to write to you all in the pages of The Lawrentian. Thank you to those who reached out with comments and e-mails; they are always appreciated. 

      May your finals be final, your travels safe and wherever you call home be warm in spirit and temperature. As ever, if you wish to agree or disagree with anything I’ve written, or you just want to shoot the political breeze, contact me at abell@lawrence.edu. Cheers!

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