Trump and coronavirus dealt major defeats on same day
Nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of a clinical trial on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. The beginning of mass vaccination represents a victory in the war against coronavirus, but there are many more deadly months ahead. | AP

If Dec. 7, 1941, was a day of infamy, then Dec. 14, 2020, may be recorded in U.S. history as a day of triumph and tragedy. The triumphs were the twin blows dealt against the deadly coronavirus pandemic and the fascistic coup attempts of Donald Trump. The tragedy came when the country passed the grim milestone of 300,000 COVID-19 deaths.

All three fateful events were reported within hours of each other. In the morning, nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first American to receive the coronavirus vaccine outside of a clinical trial. She was jabbed at New York’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of the major battle sites in the fight against the virus this spring. A frontline health worker and a Black woman, Lindsay was symbolic both of COVID’s toll on the soldiers who’ve fought this war and the communities of color that have borne its brunt.

Meetings of the Electoral College and the January session of Congress to certify the votes of the latter are typically routine administrative affairs that simply put a seal on an outcome already known. The machinations of Trump and his loyalists in this election, however, have made the events into political battles to defend democracy. | Joshua A. Bickel / The Columbus Dispatch via AP

The celebration of this initial victory in the vaccination campaign that will eventually end the pandemic was interrupted midday when the official fatality count at Johns Hopkins University ticked past 300,000. It was a reminder that the months ahead will still be hell; millions more are yet to be infected in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands are yet to die. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine project that the death toll could exceed half a million by the end of February—deadlier for the U.S. than any foreign war the country has ever fought.

Then in the early evening, the members of the Electoral College put the seal on President-elect Joe Biden’s win over Trump, making official what the whole world already knew since Nov. 7: Trump suffered a landslide defeat in both the popular and electoral votes. In a number of states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, electors had to be snuck into capitol buildings through secret entrances and protected by police due to threats from armed Trump supporters. Fake slates of Trump electors, meanwhile, met in a few places for make-believe Electoral College sessions to award their make-believe votes to the outgoing president.

The final real tally was, as expected, 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. By right, this should mean the end of Trump’s failed effort to preserve his hold on the White House. But just as the arrival of the vaccine doesn’t spell the immediate end of coronavirus, neither does the Electoral College vote mean the Trump plague is over. The struggle to protect the people’s Election Day verdict against him goes on—at least a bit longer.

The next step in finalizing Trump’s defeat comes on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress meets to accept the Electoral College votes—just a day after Georgia voters settle the question of which party will control the U.S. Senate. Typically, the session to certify the Electoral College vote is nothing but a rubberstamp administrative affair. But a handful of Republicans in the House of Representatives have made clear they intend to register their objection to the real electors and give preference to the fake Trump slates instead. Only one senator needs to back them in order to trigger a vote in both Houses.

As has every Trump courtroom challenge to the results so far, this last-ditch effort at election theft is headed for failure. The Democrats control the House, so the outcome there is preordained. As for the Senate, even though the GOP is in charge, enough Republican senators have accepted the Biden win to make it highly unlikely Trump could prevail in that chamber either.

Even Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell finally caved and congratulated Biden on Tuesday morning. Thus, the plan to seat the fake slate of electors will be dead on arrival, though there may very well be a few hours of pandemonium on Capitol Hill as Trump loyalists in Congress scream, yet again, about voter fraud that never happened.

On Monday, Dec. 14, Trump fired his Attorney General Bill Barr, left, and replaced him with corporate attorney and anti-regulatory crusader Jeffrey Rosen, right. The appointment makes a special counsel probe of the incoming Biden administration a near certainty. | AP photos

The presidential transition will then move toward Trump’s eviction on Inauguration Day. But the actions he’s taking in these closing weeks of his administration are already framing the post-inauguration fight. With the firing of Attorney General Bill Barr on Monday and his replacement by corporate attorney and anti-regulatory crusader Jeffrey Rosen, Trump has put in place a reliable toady who will assist him in his efforts to sabotage Biden and any progressive agenda.

For months—long before the election—Trump has been obsessed with pushing a government investigation of Biden and his family. Barr was reportedly reluctant to give in to Trump’s pressure, but Rosen’s appointment makes it almost a foregone conclusion. If Rosen establishes a special counsel, it would likely have full independence from the incoming administration.

This would mean that as soon as he takes office, Biden will be hobbled by a charade probe that has no other intent but to throw a wrench into his plans to beat the virus and revive the economy. It will serve to validate Trump’s claims of corruption and provide him plenty of ammunition to sustain his fascistic mass movement after his exit from Washington.

So while yesterday saw historic victories in the fights to save the people of the United States from the scourge of coronavirus and to preserve democracy from the scourge of Donald Trump, the celebrations of both are tempered by the battles still ahead. So don’t take off your masks or your marching shoes just yet. We’ve got a long way to go.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.

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CONTRIBUTOR

C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

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