The Most Important Lesson Learned from The 2020 Election: Americans Can Not Take Our Democracy For Granted

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(Author’s Note: This is the 13th in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll  be writing for CommPRO.biz  until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI: My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column I write on what I would advise President Biden to do during the first two weeks of his administration and also suggest ways of healing the divide among the American public.)

Arthur Solomon

Democracy held. President Trump’s attempted coup failed when Congress upheld the Electoral College victory of president-elect Joe Biden. in the early morning hours of January 7.

On January 20, President-elect Joe Biden will become President Joe Biden. He has inherited many problems from his incompetent, delusional, egotistic, self- absorbed, fabulist, autocratic predecessor that he will have to solve. The one that most immediately affects all Americans is stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But his most difficult task will be having much of the American public regain trust in America. And for that the soon-to-be former President Trump deserves to be remembered in American history, along with Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, the delusional judge who presided over the Salem witch trials of 1692, and Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War general, who betrayed the U.S., as one of the most evil persons in American history. Or for those of you who prefer Roman history, Trump’s reign can be compared to Caligula, who ruled from AD 37-41, and is remembered “as a selfish and capricious ruler whose ineptitude weakened the Roman Empire during his four-year reign.”

Yes, Joe Biden will soon become the president. But the election proved that our democracy is fragile, as the overwhelming number of GOP elected House members and 17 GOP state attorney generals backed Trump’s attempted coup and the overwhelming majority of Republican senators remained mute, even after more than 60 Trump court filings asking for the election results to be rejected were tossed for lack of evidence. And despite the storming of the Capitol during the counting of the Electoral College votes by thugs egged on by Trump, Giuliani, Trump Jr. and others, for many Republicans their sorry attempts to re-do the voting continued until Vice President Pence announced that Biden was the winner a few seconds after 3:40 a.m. on Thursday, ending the Constitutional process that began on January 6.

History will remember the 2020 election as the one that came this close to transforming the U.S. from a democratic republic into a dictatorial banana republic.  History will record that a president of the United States named Donald John Trump believed he was invincible and copied the propaganda techniques used by the Nazi’s that eventfully gave Hitler control of the German government. The lies of President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and other Trumpkins will be remembered for causing Americans to distrust the facets of our government whose job it is to protect us from foreign and American disinformation efforts. History will record Trump as the president who created mistrust in America’s elections, its election officials, courts and any media outlets that opposes him. 

President Trump’s legacy of mistrust has not only poisoned the well, but the ponds, streams, tributaries and rivers of government. How long it will take to clean up the pollutions of his words and actions is not known. 

What is known is that it can be done, but it will take cooperation between the Democrats and Republicans, as well as the efforts of governmental agencies to again restore trust in our democratic traditions. 

Doing so will not be easy. The deranged delusional, disgraced, impeached f President Trump could help by telling his followers that he was wrong; the election was fairly conducted. But anyone who believes that will happen needs psychiatric help, as does Trump. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can help by not repeating what he did when Barack Obama took office, vowing to make Biden a one term president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. AOC can help by telling their followers not to criticize actions by President Joe Biden. To give him a chance.

The extreme right wing media, like Fox, can help by toning down its opinion commentators. 

The Black Lives Matters movement can help by not taking to the streets every time there is a police action or court decision that upsets them and instead let justice take its course. 

The leaders of our industries can help by asking their lobbyists to go on vacation for a while until trust in government is again on the path to health. 

Labor leaders can help by curtailing work stoppages until trust in government has been removed from the ICU’s.  

From 1941 to 1945, all facets of American society banded together to fight a common enemy. After 9/11, Americans again joined hands. History shows that it takes an extraordinary threat to the U.S. for the American public to coalesce. 

If the near destruction of American democracy by Trump isn’t such a situation, I don’t know what is. 

History usually doesn’t say much about one term presidents, unless they have accomplished something unique, like John Adams did when he was instrumental in the founding of the United States. But Donald John Trump probably will have a special place in American’s history books — right next to Benedict Arnold, another traitor, who believed that he was mistreated. 

It’s long been said that a man riding a white horse and holding a bible will be the greatest threat to our democracy. The Trump years have changed that narrative. The greatest threat to our democracy was a clinically obese, orange thatched fabulist named Donald John Trump, who will be remembered by historians as an incompetent, totalitarian-minded president who often couldn’t craft a grammatically correct tweet without spelling errors. 

 In 1888, Rudyard Kipling wrote a book titled “The Man Who Would Be King.” It’s only a matter of time before a book and movie about the presidency of Donald Trump will be titled, “The President Who Would Be A Dictator.”

Certainly everyone in our business took English lit, philosophy and history courses, as well as the easy public relations ones, so that they would become well-rounded PR practitioners. Right? So everyone knows that as he was leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “What kind of government did you give us?” Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it” or something like that, according to historians. Thus far, despite the actions of Trump and his cronies we have been able to keep it. But events show people who believe in democracy can not take it for granted.

So much for quasi-philosophizing and 100% punditry. Now for what really matters — the future. 

There’s little doubt that Joe Biden will face a Republican Senate and House whose mission will be to stymie him at every opportunity. 

I’ve been out of active politics for some time. But if  I was advising the new president, here’s what I would suggest — trash the trite 100 days plan in favor of a 15 day agenda that would put the Republicans on the defensive e very day. 

Day 1: Would be devoted to the coronavirus. I would suggest he address the nation on what his administration is doing to fight the disease and also send a new economic relief bill to Congress, even if one was adopted prior to his inauguration. 

Day 2: Would be highlighted by a virtual meeting with any state governor who wants to participate, during which they would list the top concerns about all matters in their states. 

Day 3: Would be similar to Day 2, except the invitation would go to mayors who want to participate. 

Day 4: Members of the House would be asked to meet with the president and have the opportunity to discuss the needs of their constituents.

Day 5: Similar to Day 4, the difference would be that Senators would be invited to participate. 

Day 6: Labor leaders would be asked to tell the president about their concerns.

Day 7: Corporate leaders would have the same opportunity as the labor leaders had. 

Day 8: The president would announce new health plan initiatives. 

Day 9: The president would announce members of a newly created team of bi-partisan “wise people” whose job would be to suggest solutions to the major problems in American society. 

Day 10: This would be “executive action day,” with the president undoing much of Trump’s actions. 

Day 11: The president would make a major foreign policy speech.  

Day 12: This would be “Come Together Day,” during which a group of respected bi-partisan political leaders would meet with the president and give short talks of the necessity of Americans to heal the divide among us. 

Day: 13: This would be First Amendment Day, during which the president would discuss why freedom of speech and the press is a necessity for the U.S. to remain a democratic nation. 

Day: 14: This would be Honor Our Heroes Day, during which the president would thank Americans from all walks of life who are keeping our country functioning during the pandemic. 

Day 15: Based on inputs from  his meetings, meshed with his policy positions, the president would announce his “Build Back Better” agenda and submit to it Congress for action. 

At the very least, the rolling out of a new initiative every day creates a detailed issue that Republicans would have to deal with and that Democrats can point to during political battles. 

But it takes more than a plan to achieve legislative success. 

With input from the meetings with governors, mayors, the House and the Senate, Biden should have enough specific recommendations from his virtual meetings to include many proposals that were on the “need list” of those involved.  

The above can be accomplished, but it will take Democrats to stick together and dismantle their circular firing squads. And for GOP senators to put country ahead of party.

A few minutes before submitting this article (on January 7), Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said that President Trump should be removed from power immediately. “What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday (Wednesday, January 6)  was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president. This president should not hold office one day longer,” Schumer said. 

“The quickest and most effective way — it can be done today — to remove this president from office would be for the vice president to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the vice president and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress should reconvene to impeach the president,” he said.

I agree but go a little further than Sen. Schumer. As I wrote in a column published on this web site on January 7, I believe that Trump should be prosecuted for his many transgressions, the most serious of which is his inciting an insurrection against the U.S. 

President Trump’s claim about a “stolen election that I won in a landslide” is either delusional or said to incite violence. Either way he a danger to our democracy and should be removed from office immediately. The power of the presidency is too great to be left in the hands of an individual, who it appears is in the midst of a melt down.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

 

 

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