President-Elect Joe Biden will have two numbers to deal with after he is inaugurated: 13,182,727 (as of this writing, and rising) and 73,813,053. He has a plan for the first number. He needs a plan for the second one.
His plan for dealing with the out of control COVID pandemic, thankfully, includes: listening to science, free testing and tracing, vaccine and treatments distribution, protecting vulnerable Americans, a sane masking and distancing policy, and the ramp up of personal protective equipment. As of now, he has no plan for dealing with the virtually 74 million Americans who embraced Trumpism, by voting for Donald Trump.
If we’re honest, Donald Trump continuing to say he won the election (which he patently did not) is seditious behavior by a sitting U.S. president. (Sedition includes subversion of a constitution and incitement toward, or rebellion against, established authority.) In our constitutional democracy, “established authority“ includes 270 votes in the Electoral College to ascend to the presidency. Biden got 306 votes. Trump got 232 votes.
The fact that based on his say so, without any evidence, more than three quarters (77 percent) of Republicans believe Trump won the election, but that it was stolen from him by voter fraud is something Biden has to deal with in the first 100 days of his presidency. Trump’s propaganda campaign against our democracy, declaring a rigged election, has been too impactful to ignore.
Come January 20, 2021, Donald Trump (who will probably not attend the Biden inauguration) will not be in our rear-view mirror. Whether through announcing a 2024 run for the presidency or a new media show, he will continue feeding his propaganda campaign — aimed at undermining our democracy and the Biden administration — to his base of support.
The fact that there were virtually 74 million votes for Donald Trump means our Civil War rages on. While race obviously remains a prime factor in this struggle, Trumpism, added mistrust of our government and its institutions to the “sar.”
Donald Trump understands that successful propaganda requires constant repetition of the lie. Indeed, his Thanksgiving lie that “there’s no way Biden got 80 million votes,” and his Black Friday Twitter lie, saying that President-Elect Biden must prove he got 80 million votes before he can enter the White House, are both now swirling around social media, and being echoed on pro-Trump media sites like Fox News, Breitbart, Citizens for Trump, etc. A substantial number of the 74 million who voted for him will believe this nonsense.
This kind of attack on our democracy cannot be countered with “regular order.” Nor will it be enough to leave it to the main stream media and cable news shows to correct Trump’s propaganda; it’s too engrained in essentially half our voting population.
In our world of social media, conspiracy theories and lack of education regarding how our democracy works (only 32 percent of Americans can name the three co-equal branches of government-executive, judicial and legislative), it’s going to take direct educational action, on a consistent basis in real time, countering the lies to begin to repair the kind of damage Trump’s propaganda has done too our democracy.This can come from either an office of “Truth and Democracy” in the Biden administration, or a non-profit organization. It would not just focus on Trump’s campaign, it would legitimately include all the anti democratic propaganda, which will follow his lead, coming from foreign and domestic sources.
It is tragic that in the 21st century we have to confront an attack on our democracy from our own president; but, we do. Donald Trump understood that there is deep distrust of our government (reaching to the point of paranoia) in our country, which he could exploit. Unless countered, it will continue tearing at the fabric of our democracy. One of President Biden’s most important jobs will be to ensure this does not happen.