A Poor Exit that Stained a Legacy
This is not a political post – this is a cautionary tale that we can all learn from.
On November 3, 2020, the largest number of Americans (155 million) voted in the presidential election. 81 million voted for Biden and 74 million voted for Trump. For days they were counting votes in contested states (Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan) which would decide the election. As an aside, it’s amazing to think less than 200,000 votes decided this election in those battleground states. On Saturday, November 7, the major media outlets called the states and called the election for Joe Biden.
Trump had every right to pursue every legal action to make sure this was a fair election, which he did. It was also his right not to concede the election. However, he did not have the right to make false accusations without evidence. He did not have the right to lie to the American people. He did not have the right to rile up his base without evidence.
On January 6, President Trump asked people to gather in Washington for a big announcement that would change the outcome of the election. Hundreds of thousands attended the presentation from all over the country. However, no further documentation was presented. It was more bloviating and more accusations. During his speech, Trump told his supporters to go to the capitol building and let your voices be heard as the congress was voting to certify the election. He also told the crowd that we should not back down and that we should all fight like hell.
Thousands of people did go to the national capitol after the rally, but President Trump did not follow the crowd. Hundreds then decided to break into the capitol building past barricades and police. Vice President Pence was whisked away to the bunker by secret service agents while congress feared for their lives. In the end, secret service shot and killed one protester and four more lost their lives that day. It was an ugly scene and an ugly day for America.
Joe’s Perspective: Trump did not tell these individuals to break into the capitol building. I do not think it was an attempted coup, given that no one was armed. I also don’t think that it was the worst thing to happen in America, given that it lasted less than 3 hours with virtually no damage to the property. However, Trump did rile up a crowd of people and send them to the capitol without a plan and without leadership. This was irresponsible, particularly as a sitting president and given the lack of evidence.
In the end, Trump fully embraced the role of a poor sport. For months, his lawyers presented insufficient evidence to courts that repeatedly dismissed their cases. It doesn’t mean there weren’t irregularities that need to be addressed, but Trump acted like a spoiled brat in defeat. He then asked people to gather in Washington on the day of election certification and irresponsibly directed angry citizens to the capitol building without any foresight to what would happen next.
When the history books are written, historians will not be analyzing his policies for four years. Trump will be remembered for his poor dismount and his sad exit. He did not concede or congratulate his opponent after the election. He provided unsubstantiated evidence that the election was stolen. His actions then led to an assault on the nations capitol. Finally, he did not attend the inauguration as almost every president has done before him. Regardless of your politics, his action left a bad after-taste. His exit stained his legacy and damaged/ruined his reputation.
Your Turn: What lessons can you lean from this story that you can apply to your life?