As required by our Constitution and subsequent federal law, Congress met Friday afternoon in a joint session to certify the 2016 electoral votes for President and Vice President. Vice President Joe Biden fulfilled his role as President of the Senate by presiding over the session, which was historic, but not all that dramatic.
The first drama came as several disgruntled House Democrats raised formal objections to the Electoral College results. The nature of their discontent ranged from complaints alleging Russian interference and voter suppression to claims of illegal votes cast by GOP electors.
However, their objections all failed for lack of any Senate backing, which is a legal requirement for consideration. Rep. Maxine Waters, D. Calif. asked, “Is there one U.S. Senator who will join me? Just one?” The only response was the sound of silence from senators, Democratic and Republican.
Biden repeatedly used his gavel to dash Democratic debate on the objections, saying they could not be entertained. When the final tally was certified, Biden announced, “It is over.” And so it was. Trump prevailed over Clinton 304 electoral votes to her 227.
Drama morphed into melodrama when three protestors, shouting from the visitor galleries, were escorted out of the chamber. One left a Parthian shot, “Donald Trump as commander in chief is a threat to American democracy!”
Despite the drama and melodrama of the joint session that certified Trump’s victory, it was mostly a model of civility and decorum. Not so, the long, contentious and controversial presidential elections of 2016.
The presidential primaries and caucuses of 2016 culminated in the nomination of Hillary Clinton by the Democrats and Donald Trump by the Republicans. Clinton was heavily favored to win by the media, political experts, pundits, and practically everyone else -- including most of the prominent pollsters.,
However, in the only polls that counted, Trump trounced Clinton by winning 306 electoral votes to her 232. Even after a three-state recount requested by Democrats failed to alter the outcome of Trump’s victories in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, anti-Trump forces continued their march for Clinton.
Next came a quixotic quest to “convert” 37 GOP electors faithful to Trump into so-called “faithless” electors, who would then cast their vote for someone else or abstain from voting altogether. That last-ditch effort not only failed; it backfired on the Democrats. They had 5 “faithless” electors to just 2 for Trump.
Now that Congress has certified Donald Trump to become our 45th President on Jan. 20, maybe he can find a way to heal and unite a divided nation. That could be his biggest challenge. Let’s all hope and pray he recognizes and rises responsibly to that challenge.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at email@example.com.