In 2020, Donald Trump lost the election to Joseph Biden. He refused to concede, or to accept the results, essentially calling the election a sham. Since then, the world has been watching him grasp for straws at power as the end of his presidency before Inauguration Day on January 20, 2021 comes to a close. For example, he incited the violence that happened on Capitol Hill, and he continued to carry out death row inmate executions, the last one of 13 occurring four days before Biden took office. Aside from recent events, since the election, Trump went on a firing spree, continued climate assault, passed last minute executive orders, and pardoned individuals guilty of murder.
Lame duck elected officials are those who have lost a re-election bid or are not seeking re-election but have not yet finished their term.
The end of Trump’s presidency, also known as a “lame duck session,” was anything but anti-climatic. It included him inciting violence and encouraging treason on Capitol Hill (see Peaceful Transition of Power and the Trump-Biden Transition for more information). Aside from recent events, in the remaining months of Trump’s presidency, the EPA finalized a decision to keep current air pollution standards for industrial soot, maintaining the status quo despite a push for stricter parameters. The Department of Justice and Homeland and Security finalized a regulation to end asylum for migrants fleeing violence and persecution.
After the election, Trump also went on a firing spree, removing anyone who sounded the alarm or has challenged him. Perhaps the most unfortunate of acts, are the 13 executions that were carried out on his watch. The last five occurred after the election, which broke a 130 year old precedent of pausing federal executions during a presidential transition. Meanwhile, Trump pardoned a plethora of individuals, such as the 15 Republic allies and Blackwater guards who were convicted of killing civilians.
These contradictory actions further illustrate that Trump was not interested in seeking justice or carrying out democratic processes. Instead of doing what was right, he chose to flex his power in his final days in office, demonstrating his reaction to being a lame duck. His final actions continued to bring into question the reputableness of American democracy. While some of the damage may not be irreversible, it will be important to see how Biden reacts with his new presidential power. It’s essential to watch and investigate as Biden attempts to resuscitate American democracy’s reputation around the globe as well as unity and social justice progress throughout the country.