For all the unforeseen turmoil to have defined the last 12 months, one meltdown was rather predictable.
There are 78 days between November 3rd and January 20th – the dates of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, and the 2021 U.S. Presidential inauguration, respectively. America’s 20th Amendment dictates that at least 72, and no more than 78, days must elapse from Americans casting their ballots in November, to the swearing in of the victor on Capitol Hill the following January. Like many of America’s most baffling present-day policies, the election/inauguration timeline was decided by a group of a men who lived in a time gone by. It made sense once, but now that information travels in seconds, not days, the 11 weeks required consists of 10 too many.
I suppose in the grand scheme of America’s nostalgic democracy, the 20th Amendment is fairly modern. When Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated the incumbent Herbert Hoover in November 1932, he did not become President until March 1933, as law then commanded. With the U.S. reeling from the Great Depression and Americans desperate for action from their newly elected leader, it became evident the ‘lame-duck period’ was too long. Lawmakers proposed and enacted the 20th Amendment, bringing any future inaugurations forward from March, to the now customary January.
That the 20th Amendment is a product of the last 100 years is crucial, because it provides precedent. The 11 weeks – that some Americans will no doubt claim holy whenever shortening the transition is suggested – were not ordained by the founding fathers; “72 to 78 days” was not inked by quill at the steady hand of James Madison, as George Washington and co. looked eagerly on.
Rather, America’s 20th Amendment is an example of a constitutional democracy adapting, progressing and succeeding; realising that a law is dated, and acting swiftly to ensure that the lengthy inaction that mired Hoover’s transition of power to FDR, could not be repeated again.
Donald Trump’s transition of power to Joe Biden will not be remembered as one of inaction. After pre-emptively claiming victory on election night, Trump’s ravings of fraud and corruption have graduated from desperate to insane. From infantile, dishonest tweeting, to dripping, groping, blubbering lawyers, the Trump camp’s response to losing in November has been remarkable. But their efforts to undermine the election, at any cost, only prove the vulgarity and narcissism of the man who’s presided over America for the last four years; they demonstrate just how little he ever cared about the wellbeing of the United States, in comparison to himself.
Most of all however, the last 61 days highlight the 5-year long juxtaposition between the President and his supporters: he is a morally reprehensible, egotistical tyrant, branded and adored as ‘a man of the people,’ by Americans who claim to value honour, integrity and reverence – commodities the draft-dodging Commander in Chief does not comprehend, let alone possess – and yet onto him, through rose-tinted glasses, millions of desperate Americans have pinned their hopes, failing to see Trump embodies nothing that they supposedly stand for. Failing to see he needed them to get what he wanted, and not the other way around.
People’s minds are made up by this point though. To renounce Trump now, would mean admitting you were wrong about him all along. That’s a difficult thing to do. Instead, Trump’s core will defend him, and follow him down whatever bottomless, baseless rabbit hole he conjures up next. This is what always made the scheduled 78 days so dangerous, and the ensuing chaos so predictable.
While we’re here, a quick word on Presidential pardons. Trump has already ploughed ahead with a number of pardons for those near and dear to him – plus four war criminals – but the most contentious decisions could be yet to arrive. With rumours that he is keen to absolve his family, as well as himself, from all future Federal prosecution, America may soon see another unprecedented shitshow.
Presidential pardons are always controversial. Trump is not alone in using this autocratic tool for personal gain, though the extent he will remains to be seen. While I think it’s bizarre for any one person to be given that power, more bizarre still is that the President can continue to wield that power, once they are no longer subject to a public vote. Bizarre? Undemocratic or tyrannical might be more fitting words.
MF DOOM dies aged 49
Well shit. Outta nowhere.
The late rapper leaves behind a staggering body of work and a unique legacy. In a world where short-term notoriety seems to be increasingly prioritised over long term influence, MF DOOM’s reputation – forged from a wonderful fusion of innovation, humility and creative genius – becomes all the more special.
I don’t like it when people get preachy about music taste. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Listen to whatever the fuck you enjoy. There is however, music that makes you think. Music that confronts and challenges and dares to differ. Music that captures a feeling that simply nothing other than great music ever could.
Encountering great music is always special. From the first bar of Madvillainy, I was hooked. The more I listened, the further I fell.
Rest easy Mr. Dumile. Thank you for all of it.