GP Insights

GP Insights # 454, 9 January 2021

The US: Senate Elections in Georgia, Violence in Capitol Hill, Congress Certification, and an unstab
D Suba Chandran

What happened?
On 8 January 2021, Nancy Pelosi, the US House of Representatives' Speaker, called for Donald Trump's resignation for inciting violence that led to the mob attack on the Capitol Hill. According to a New York Times report, she has also "instructed the Rules Committee to be prepared to move forward with either a motion for impeachment or legislation…to establish a body under the 25th Amendment" under which the President can be declared that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

On 7 January, the US Vice President Pence, following the meeting of the Congress to certify the results of November 2020 Presidential and Vice Presidential elections, announced Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the winners of the presidential and vice-presidential elections respectively. Earlier, the process was interrupted as the lawmakers had to be taken to a safe place, following the violence unleashed by the Trump supporters inside the building. 

On 6 January, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Hill. It vandalized the historic building, as the US Congress was getting ready to certify the November 2020 Presidential elections results. 

Also on 6 January, in the much expected Senate elections in Georgia, both the Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev Raphael Warnock defeated David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler respectively. 

On 7 January, Donald Trump announced that there would be an orderly transition on 20 January. He also has tweeted that he would not be attending the inauguration of the new President – Biden. On 8 January 2021, Twitter has "permanently suspended" Trump's account; in a note, it has stated: "After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter - we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence."

What is the background?
First, Trump's attempts to disrupt the process of certifying the November 2020 Presidential election results were scheduled to take place on 6 January 2021. After the November elections, he has repeatedly refused to accept the results and concede Biden as the winner. After failing to overturn the elections results through a series of legal cases filed in different courts, his next strategy was to undermine the Electoral College's role. Finally, he aimed to overthrow the election results in the US Congress, as it was constitutionally slated to meet and approve. He was expecting that Vice President would lead this strategy inside the Congress along with the Republican members. Unfortunately for Trump, Vice President Pence has made it clear that he would not do that despite being loyal to him.

Second, Trump's incitement of violence and building a group systematically before, during and after the elections. Since the Black Lives Matter movement gained ascendancy last year, Trump has been inciting a right-wing group comprising white supremacists, including the "Proud Boys." What happened in the Capitol Hill on 6 January 2021 was not a single event and did not happen in isolation. This has been building up during 2020.

Third, the collusion of the Republican party on the above two points. While a section of the party seems to be outraged on what had happened on 6 January, until this week, they refused to see the writing on the wall, and what is happening to the American democracy. If the party had accepted the election results in November 2020, the Capitol Hill would not have been desecrated. Numerous editorial and opinions have been pleading the Republican leaders to do the same. The Republicans who are outraged over the Capitol Hill's desecration should have also raised their voice over the White House during the last few months.

What does it mean?
First, the end of Trump era. Biden should become the American President on 20 January 2021. Though Trump has finally accepted there would be an "orderly" transition, the process would be anything but that. One has to watch out closely for what Trump and his supporters would do between 8 January and 20 January. The Speaker of the House has announced starting a process to use the 25th amendment, though the Vice President may not favour it. How will an angry and upset Trump leave the White House? Will, he further damage, or is he ready to accept what would happen on 20 January?

Second, the turnaround in Georgia. Developments that are taking place in Washington DC have pushed the significance of the election results for the two seats in Georgia. It is more than two Democratic candidates winning; it highlights the change that is taking place in Georgia, which is considered as a Republican stronghold. The win in Georgia would also mean the end of the Republican majority in the Senate. Should be a good omen for the US and the new President.

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