Just days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is sworn into office, incumbent President Donald J. Trump has been impeached for a historic second time for his “incitement of insurrection” against the United States government.
The resolution to impeach Trump passed 232 to 197, with support from at least nine Republicans, charging the president for his role in provoking violence in last week’s riot on Capitol Hill. If Trump is in fact removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become the 46th President of the United States, making Biden the 47th.
Long Beach State political science professor Matt Lesenyie deemed Trump’s term a “blueprint for future politicians to run for office as defenders of white identity.”
“The 2020 election demonstrated that there is enough voter support for politicians to be competitive, and they can dispense with the niceties of dog whistle coded language,” Lesenyie wrote in an email.
He said that as Trump chose to conduct media responses himself, he “sought to dominate headlines at all times.” This contrasted his predecessors, who used a “communications war room to respond to every negative news story with a positive spin.”
While in office, Trump has consistently made controversial decisions and disputable claims, creating a hostile environment between the Democrats and Republicans across the three branches of government. After the Senate runoff in Georgia concluded earlier this month, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s wins have flipped the Senate blue and caused Trump to lose both chambers of Congress in addition to reelection.
Trump successfully appointed three Supreme Court justices during his term, the most since former President Richard Nixon, who appointed four.
According to Pew Research Center, Trump appointed nearly the same amount of federal appeals court judges in four years than former President Barack Obama appointed during his eight years. Pew Research also found that Trump appointed slightly fewer people of color to the federal courts than his recent predecessors.
Although Biden may not need to fill any vacancies on the Supreme Court, he pledged during a debate in February of 2020 that he would appoint a Black woman if given the opportunity. To date there has never been a Black woman serving as a Supreme Court justice.
Announced Thursday, Biden will be implementing a $1.9 trillion relief package, called the “American Rescue Plan,” that looks to assist struggling families and businesses across the country as well as prioritize testing and vaccination as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
He also plans to provide Americans with stimulus payments of $2,000 as part of his “two-step plan of rescue and recovery.” By the end of his first 100 days in office, Biden aims to “safely reopen a majority of K-8 schools” and increase vaccine supply to accommodate 100 million shots.
Trump, in comparison to other world leaders, had a slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, a threat he was aware of for months before taking action. He faced criticism for his lack of sufficient relief as Americans were struggling to make ends meet amid an employment crisis.
“Negative stories, whimsical pondering [such as] injecting bleach, nepotism and pardons were fair game so long as it made news,” Lesenyie wrote.
While in office, Trump left his mark by reversing several policies intended to protect the environment and address the climate crisis, including withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Agreement and censoring the Environmental Protection Agency website.
He implemented stronger immigration policies, which included his ban targeting Muslim individuals and his practice of separating children from their parents at the border, many of whom have yet to be reunited as of last month.
“These policies were characterized by their disorganized implementation. The policies represented a cruel inhumanity toward people of color,” Lesenyie said. “The effect of the separations was to permanently injure those children and their families. The policy will cast a shadow on America’s moral standing long into the future.”
Trump also made significant tax cuts, such as a rate drop of 35% to 21% for companies in the U.S., and lowered taxes for upper class individuals, according to Reuters.
Once Biden takes office, Lesenyie predicts he will likely “leverage the Homeland Security apparatus that was created post-9/11 to monitor and preemptively stem domestic threats” following the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6. While the Bush administration faced threats from “foreign actors,” he said, Biden “will face an additional challenge because threats are coming from American citizens [who] are entitled to the full complement of civil liberties.”
With Biden’s inauguration comes Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the first woman and person of color to hold the position. Lesenyie said he foresees a “continuation of the Obama legacy” with the Biden-Harris team.
In the coming weeks, he said, Americans should expect to see a divided Republican Party as elected officials in local, state and federal positions move forward with reelection.
“In addition to being a compelling communicator, Trump has been savvy at using his next enterprise to bail himself out of trouble. We’ve learned nothing if we underestimate either of those skills,” Lesenyie said. “The effects of those lies have real electoral implications and there is virtually nothing to combat that deceit.”
Biden will officially take office Wednesday, Jan. 20 as the 46th President of the United States in front of the Capitol building in a ceremony featuring celebrity appearances and 20,000 National Guard troops.