INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 180 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a
number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
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Integrative United States President Joe Biden
A Journal of the Month Before the Election
and the Days That Follow It: Part 4
So President-Elect Biden needs to become President Biden, and this for me is the first priority.
It has been a week since Election Day, and 3 days since the networks declared Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States . It is certainly no surprise that Trump has not conceded defeat and has no intention of doing so, has requested recounts in swing states where the voting tallies were close, has already instituted a number of legal proceedings in various states, claiming diverse formulations of voter fraud, and is planning to hold campaign-style rallies (complete with a multitude of coronavirus likely infections ) to contest the election . These diverse formulations of voter fraud have even included the claim of dead people voting, but thus far none of Trump's claims appear to be based upon any kind of substantial evidence . However, I must admit that although I think it is highly unlikely that Trump will be successful in his attempts to “steal” the election, I am still nervous about the possibility of this happening. Unlike virtually all previous presidential transition periods, Trump and his administration have refused to cooperate and allow Biden access to government staff, resources, and funding for Biden's presidential transition period . Trump has begun his process of firing high level government administrators who he felt were not “loyal” enough to him, beginning with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper . And Trump is largely supported by his Republican colleagues in Congress, through either their strong vocal support or by their silence in the face of his unsubstantial claims of voter fraud .
The next significant date is December 14th, which is when the electors formally cast their votes in the presidential election. Ordinarily this is an automatic “boring” procedure that does not reflect any surprises in regard to who the majority of the people in a state voted for, but as Umair Haque continues to impactfully convey , these are not ordinary times:
“There are 76 days. Between now and the inauguration. And those days are never going to have mattered more. . . . He [Biden] should rightfully win the election. But it is crucial to understand that he has not done so yet. This does not happen until three further procedures take place. One, electors cast their votes for Biden. Two, states have to certify those votes, which governors often have to sign off on. And three, a joint session of Congress accepts the vote. Now, in a normal year, all this would be a yawn-inducing technicality. This year, though, it's going to be anything but.” 
And Haque shares my anxiety about what could happen if Trump is successful in getting the Supreme Court involved in his claims of voter fraud, as well as if Trump is successful in influencing electors:
“If the Supreme Court decides to hear the cases Trump brings before it, that's probably already game overit leans heavily sympathetic to Republicans as a party, and to the cause of centralizing authoritarian power. . . . The majority of states have no laws aligning electoral votes with the popular vote. None. There is literally no mechanism to enforce the idea that electors should vote public preferences. What is there? In a handful of states, there are small fines. There's just a norm, in the majority of cases. . . . They are going to throw everything at electors in swing states to try and get them to change their votes.” 
And finally, Haque emphasizes that the Biden victory was essentially very close:
“Joe Biden has not won by a landslide. He has barely eked out a victory. His margin in swing states is razor thin. The countryor at least its white majorityis bitterly divided. Trump's base, much of it, will think that trying to change the election at the level of the electoral college is the right and proper thing to do. The correct and justifiable recourse, because those margins are so razor thin, because it feels like the election suddenly was stolen from them. I know that it wasn'tbut that knowledge doesn't change the feelings of bitterness and anger on the losing side. They are going to try to do everything they can, in my estimation, to tamper with the vote at the level of the electoral college now.” 
The feelings of bitterness and anger in many people who voted for Trump is palpable and dangerous . And when I think that over 71 million of these people voted for Trump, nearly half the number of Americans who voted, I find the situation to be quite disturbing and alarming. One writer remarked that he is not willing to meet Trump supporters halfway and he is only willing to engage with them if they agree to a number of demands that he makes:
“You cannot support Nazis. . . . You cannot support people who objectify or molest women. . . . You cannot support crazy people owning a veritable arsenal of military-grade weapons. . . . You cannot demand that government should dictate all reproductive decisions in the name of 'pro life'. . . . You cannot support people who oppose science.” 
I agree with this writer's demands as conditions to engage with people who voted for Trump. And along these lines, I now realize that it is important that Trump be prosecuted fully for all his crimes once he finally leaves, or is removed from, office. I say this because otherwise it is likely that Trump will continue in the public limelight, perhaps with his own extreme-Republican/Conservative television show to replace Fox News, and perhaps even run as a presidential candidate in 2024, wreaking extended and irrevocable havoc on the United States and the world . I would like to see Trump either in jail or forced to leave the country to avoid jail, to get rid of him once and for all. As another writer conveyed:
“Even bereft of the powers of the Presidency, Trump remains the head of a dangerous movement, perhaps the greatest threat to democracy, indeed to this country's very survival, that we have ever faced. Our best efforts to discredit and disgrace that movement have failed; Trump got seventy million votes last week, and it is only thanks to good fortune that we are not looking forward to four more years of nightmare. . . . There is every prospect that Trump's movement will return in two years to another bid for power, and in 2024 for another run at the White House, maybe even with Trump himself at its head. It is therefore vital that Trump be prosecuted, whether by the Justice Department or by the state of New York, and either sent to prison or driven to flee the country. This father of lies and sower of chaos must not be allowed to remain at large in this country; above all, he must be deprived of the media spotlight.” 
I think that much of what happens in the Biden presidency will depend on the two Senate races in Georgia in January, that will determine whether or not Biden will be able to work with a Senate majority or will be sidelined by Mitch McConnell for 4 years. Along these lines, it is noteworthy that both Georgia Republican senators who are now forced into run-off elections in January have asked for the resignation of the Georgia (Republican) Secretary of State who was in charge of the vote tallies . Being sidelined by McConnell for 4 years would likely result in Biden being significantly reduced in what he is able to accomplish, as well as having to succumb to McConnell's preferences for Biden to choose centrist rather than progressive cabinet members , and all of this would likely increase the possibility that a Trump-like smarter than Trump candidate, or perhaps even Trump himself, could become president in 2024. But this thought is far more than my mental/emotional system is able to think much about right now, as first things firstand there are still a few months left for Trump to try to steal the election.
And along these lines, here are some impactful words of caution and advice from a writer who refers to himself or herself as Madisonian, which I find to be both relevant and timely:
“We are winning in court, but we only have to lose once to get this to walk up the chain. We need more than lawyerswe need them [the Biden/Harris team] to step up and condemn this authoritarian power grab. . . . Norms and even Laws are irrelevant to an authoritarian regime. They broke law after law after law when they used the White House to campaign, but suffered nothing more than a series of snarky tweets for their trouble. The coup began and was planned with the ACB [Amy Coney Barrett] nomination and subsequent shove-through of her ascendance to the court. She did not say she would recuse herself from cases associated with the election, and so we must assume for the sake of our democracy that she intends to assist them in this effort. We need a plan, and that plan cannot be to dismiss these concerns or yawn them away. What can the party do *right now* to get out ahead of this. Not wait and see. Not hope the courts do the right thing. What direct action can we take? At the very least, party leaders need to get out on the stump and let the hellfire reign in defense of our democracy. We need to impeach Bill Barr for his attack on our election. We need to drag the woman holding up the transition in front of the House, and for god's sake can we finally use the power of inherent contempt to force this issue? We need to have our people out there on every news story talking about how unpatriotic and authoritarian the Republican party is behaving. They need to be furious. Outraged. Slamming firsts against tables. We need warriors out there embarrassing these Republicans into finally stepping up and doing the right thing. Do not dismiss this as noise. It is not noise. When authoritarian powers tell you who they are, and what they are doing, you must believe them.” 
So President-Elect Biden needs to become President Biden, and this for me is the first priority. Tonight I took part in the 1200 person grassroots progressive action National Indivisible Activist Zoom call , and I found it to be very inspiring and reassuring. In regard to the fear that many people on the call expressed about Trump now pervasively trying to invalidate the election, one of the Indivisible founders conveyed that the polls show that 80% of the country think that Biden was elected fairly, and she also conveyed that at the present time it may be counterproductive to engage in Protect the Vote widespread rallies , as this could have the effect of making the issue more prominent in a non-constructive way, instead of letting it go away of its own accord if the legal actions do not gain their intended traction. This may appear at first glance to appear contradictory to the above strongly activist assertive advice of Madisonian , but I know that Indivisible is watching the situation with wisdom and readiness to take action if and when they believe that action is warranted, and I trust them on this . So perhaps I need to get back to my meditation and not lose heart here, as it may very well be the case that the bark is worse than the bite. Trump is barking very loudly, but hopefully very emptily. We shall seeand this means: Yes, a Part 5 essay in this series is in the forecast.
At any rate, what follows are my two journal entries during this monumental first week of November, the first one written on Election Day and the second one written on the day that Joe Biden was declared to be the next president of the United States.
Today is Election Day, and in a few hours I will be watching the election results. I fervently hope that all my writing about Trump will soon come to an end, so let me take this opportunity to remark about two recent alarming Trump reports that deeply concern me. First off, Trump has signed an executive order that will enable him to easily fire hundreds of thousands of federal government employees . Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who is the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the following in regard to Trump's executive order:
“This president's attacks on our federal workforce continue. It seems clear that he wants to be able to fire exemplary career officials like Dr. Fauci and those in the intelligence community who know that they serve the American people and not Donald Trump.” 
This executive order sounds to me like very good evidence that the kind of United States fascist authoritarianism warnings that Umair Haque continually writes about are by no means exaggerated .
The second report comes from esteemed New York Times writer Charles Blow, in an article entitled Our Most Dangerous Weeks Are Ahead: We Are Making Preparations for the Election to Descend Into Bedlam . In this article, which reinforces the likely occurrence of widespread violence in the United States after the election that I described in Part 3 of this series , Blow made some frightening predictions:
“The weeks following the election could very well be the most dangerous weeks in this country since the Civil War. If Donald Trump should lose, he may well not concede. And he will still be president, with all the power that bestows. His supporters will likely be seething, thinking that the election has been stolen. These are seeds he has been sowing for months. Trump will have command of the military, the justice Department and part of the intelligence apparatus. . . . He has tasted power and can't imagine a world in which it was withdrawn from him. A loss would be a supremely embarrassing rebuke, the first sitting president not to win re-election in 28 years.” 
Blow also points out the legal (as in jail time) dire straits that Trump could be in if he loses:
“He already knows that the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is investigating his dodgy finances. Trump knows he could face charges as soon as he leaves officeand he won't be federally pardoned.” 
In regard to taking actions to ease the deadly destruction of the pandemic, Blow has nothing optimistic to offer about this if Trump loses the election:
“The pandemic will still be raging, but Trump, who has consistently downplayed it and tragically mismanaged it, will feel absolutely no obligation to contain it. He will be wounded, afraid and dangerous. People are already preparing for hostility and violence.” 
And as Blow points out, the expected violence that pervades the United States is likely to occur no matter who wins the election:
“And the appetite and acceptance for violence among the public is growing. As researchers wrote in Politico early last month, 'Our research, which we're reporting here for the first time, shows an upswing in the past few months in the number of Americansboth Democrats and Republicanswho said they think violence would be justified if their side loses the upcoming presidential election.'” 
And Blow ends his impactful article with a disturbing, but I think accurate, illustration of what makes President Donald Trump tick:
“Trump doesn't care if he 'wins' ugly or unfairly, a win is a win. He doesn't care if it could rip this country apart because he has never cared about the health and stability of the nation. Everyone in Trump World is a tool to be used by him, to further his ambitions, to fill his coffers, to stroke his ego, to protect his power. Trump will watch his country burn and warm himself by the blaze.” 
And with this, I will now close shop until after tonight's election results are in. Stay tuned.
And the election's results are now in, after more than 3 days of the country nervously waiting for the results after the election, that felt more like 3 months. I am tremendously thankful that Joe Biden won the election . However, it is also repugnant to me that nearly half of the country voted for Trump, inclusive of both the town and district in which I live. In an article for the New York Times, Roxane Gay described the situation in a way that resonates deeply with me:
“This is America, a country desperately divided, and desperately flawed. . . . The United States is not at all united. We live in two countries. In one, people are willing to grapple with racism and bigotry. . . . we understand that this is a country of abundance and that the only reason economic disparity exists is because of a continued government refusal to tax the wealthy proportionally. The other United States is committed to defending white supremacy and patriarchy at all costs. Its citizens are the people who believe in Qanon conspiracy theories and take Mr. Trump's misinformation as gospel. . . . The past four years have shattered my faith in just about everything. . . . We have seen an endless parade of horrors, from families being separated at the Mexican border, to a shattered economy, to an administration completely indifferent to a pandemic that continues to ravage the country. And the list goes on and on. Atrocity only begets more atrocity.” 
However, Gay also holds out some hope for the future:
“At the same time, the past four years have energized me. They have moved me further left from the comfort of left of center. I have become more active and engaged in my community. I find my sociopolitical stances changing toward real progressive values. I am not the same woman I was and I am grateful for that, even if I hate what brought me to this point. . . . The future of this country is uncertain but it is not hopeless. I am ready to fight for that future, no matter what it holds.” 
The writer Dartagnan expanded, with distress, upon his previous disturbed thoughts and feelings about Trump and “half of America” that I previously described in Part 3 of this essay series :
“This was a close election, far closer than it should have been, and there is simply no excuse for that. . . . most of the same people who voted for him in 2016 voted for him again. And that is just sickthere is no other word for it. . . . This is a guy who intentionally turned his back on Americans in the face of a national emergency. A quarter million Americans are dead, and hundreds of thousands more are likely to die, because he prioritized his own reelection prospects over saying American lives. He lied about the danger of COVID-19, over and over, causing other people to die as well. That's not forgivableit's actually beyond any reasonable capacity to forgive, or forget.” 
And in regard to Trump's flagrant violation of the deepest core of our democracy, claiming on Election Day that he won the election and that the votes should stop being counted, when it was well known that millions of mail-in ballots that were leaning favorably toward Biden still needed to be counted , Dartagnan had this to say:
“And what he's doing right now is unforgivable as well. There's nothing unusual about this election. No fraud or any cause for bringing 10 lawsuits to try to stop votes from being counted. It's simply anti-American behavior. If it weren't so dangerous, it would actually be embarrassing.” 
But as I expressed my wish during my above journal entry on Election Day that “I fervently hope that all my writing about Trump will soon come to an end,” I don't want to pursue this avenue of thought any longer, now that Joe Biden has been elected the next president of the United States . Yes we are in a dangerous period of transition between now and Inauguration Day, as impactfully conveyed by New York Times writer Charles Blow, and for this reason I will wait until next week to get more of an idea of the forecast for turmoil and possible violence that the Biden victory may bring out in “the other half of America” before concluding Part 4 of this essay series. But for now, I believe it is time for progressives, including myself, to celebrate. And aside from all the celebrations happening all over the country , it is heartwarming for me to see all the wonderful notes of congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from leaders of countries all over the world .
This is a good day for meactually a stupendous day. I think I will bask in it for a while, and then get back to the reality of finishing up this essay in a few days after I see how much havoc the destructive actions of Trump are causing, inclusive of both his legal battles and stirred up frenzies in his base.
1) See John Fritze, Bart Jansen, and Camille Caldera (2020), Biden Wins: Democrat Who Vowed Return to “Normalcy” Defeats Trump in Cliffhanger Election. Retrieved from https://oklahoman.com/article/5675713/biden-wins-democrat-who-vowed-return-to-normalcy-defeats-trump-in-cliffhanger-election
2) See Mark Sumner (2020), As COVID-19 Surges, Conservatives Are Paying a Deadly Price for Listening to Trump and Fox News. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/6/1993375/-As-COVID-19-surges-conservatives-are-paying-a-deadly-price-for-listening-to-Trump-and-Fox-New
3) See Dartagnan (2020), For Those Americans Who Put Us Through This Hell, Nothing Will Be Forgiven, Or Forgotten. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/5/1993095/-For-those-Americans-who-put-us-through-this-hell-nothing-will-be-forgiven-or-forgotten; and Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland (2020), Biden Plans for White House as Trump Plans Rallies to Protest His Election Loss. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-election/biden-plans-for-white-house-as-trump-plans-rallies-to-protest-his-election-loss-idUSKBN27M0U3
4) See Konstantin Toropin, Holmes Lybrand, and Annie Grayer (2020), Claims that Dead People Voted Went Viral. These Are the Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/08/tech/michigan-dead-voter-fact-debunking/index.html; and Mark Sumner (2020), The Assault on the 2020 Election Is More Dangerous Than Anything Else Trump Has Done. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/10/1994623/-Fascism-is-on-the-left-and-other-fairy-tales-that-are-destroying-America
5) See Mark Sumner (2020), Transition Team is Being Denied Money, Offices, Security Information, and Clearances. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/10/1994657/-Biden-s-transition-team-may-have-to-sue-to-get-access-that-should-have-been-immediately-provided; and Erin Burnett (2020), Biden Allies Brace for a Contentious Transition. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/09/politics/biden-transition-delay/index.html
6) See Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne,and Nicole Gaouette (2020), Trump Fires Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/09/politics/trump-fires-esper/index.html
7) See Mark Sumner (2020), Republicans Are Recovering Their Voices, and Speaking Up to Choose Trump Over Democracy. Again. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/10/1994613/-Republicans-are-recovering-their-voices-and-speaking-up-to-choose-Trump-over-democracy-Again
8) See references for a number of Umair Haque's relevant articles in Parts 2 and 3 of this essay series: Elliot Benjamin (2020), Integrative United States President Joe Biden: A Journal of the Month Before the Election and the Days That Follow It: Part 1 at www.integralworld.net/benjamin112.html; Part 2 at www.integralworld.net/benjamin113.html; Part 3 at www.integralworld.net/benjamin114.html
9) See Umair Haque (2020), America Has a New President. Can It Keep Him? The Next 76 Days Will Be the Ultimate Test of Democracy. Retrieved from https://eand.co/america-has-a-new-president-can-it-keep-him-bf9618208923
10) See Michael Warren, Caroline Kenny, Bob Ortega, and Casey Tolan (2020), “Trump Can Still Win”: The President's Supporters Remain Defiant After Biden's Victory. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/08/politics/trump-voters-react-to-election/index.html
11) See MindMatter (2020). No. I will Not Meet you Halfway. You Must Change. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/7/1993905/-No-I-will-not-meet-you-halfway-You-must-change?detail=emaildkre
12) See Necturus (2020), Donald Trump Must Be Prosecuted. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/8/1994091/-Donald-Trump-Must-Be-Prosecuted
13) See Marianne Levine and James Arkin (2020), Loeffler, Perdue Call on Georgia's Republican Secretary of State to Resign. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/09/loeffler-perdue-georgia-secretary-state-resign-435484
14) See DeMicia Inman (2020), McConnell May Stop Biden From Picking Liberal Cabinet: Report. Retrieved from https://news.yahoo.com/mcconnell-may-stop-biden-picking-002500699.html; and Roger Sullenberger (2020), Mitch McConnell Is already Preparing to Torpedo Joe Biden's Cabinet Picks. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2020/11/05/mitch-mcconnell-is-already-preparing-to-torpedo-joe-bidens-cabinet-picks/
15) See Madisonian (2020), Yes, This Is, In Fact A Coup AttemptOr Rather, We Had Best Treat It That Way. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/9/1994511/-Yes-This-In-Fact-is-A-Coup-Attempt-Or-Rather-We-Had-Best-Treat-it-That-Way
16) See the Indivisible organization website at www.indivisible.org
17) See the Protect the Results website at https://protecttheresults.com
18) Along these lines, see an informative and reassuring short video "Trump & Biden's Transition -Watch this Video. You'll Still Hate Trump, But You'll Stop Worrying" about Biden being prepared for Trump's current attempts to invalidate the election, available at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/10/1994660/-Trump-amp-Biden-s-Transition-Watch-this-Video-You-ll-Still-Hate-Trump-But-You-ll-Stop-Worrying
19) See Veronica Stracqualursi (2020), Trump Signs Executive Order That Critics Warn Politicizes Federal Career Civil Service. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/23/politics/trump-executive-order-federal-employees/index.html
20) See Charles M. Blow (2020), Our Most Dangerous Weeks Are Ahead: We Are Making Preparations for the Election to descend Into Bedlam. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/01/opinion/trump-election-night-violence.html
21) See Roxane Gay (2020), I Am Shattered But Ready To Fight: The Support for President Trump is a Disgrace, but the Future Is Not Hopeless. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/05/opinion/trump-supporters-election-2020.html
22) See Stephen Collinson (2020), Trump's Call to Halt Vote Counts Is His Most Brazen Swipe at Democracy Yet. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/04/politics/election-2020-donald-trump-joe-biden-voting-speech/index.html
23) See Joshua Bote and Jay Cannon (2020), Popping Champagne and Dancing, People Take to the Streets Across the US to Celebrate Biden, Harris Win. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/11/07/biden-and-harris-win-2020-election-people-celebrate-streets/6202739002/
24) See Mark Sumner (2020), Allies! We Have Allies Again! Foreign Leladers Rush to Congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Retrieved from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/7/1993766/-Allies-We-have-allies-again-Foreign-leaders-rush-to-congratulate-Joe-Biden-and-Kamala-Harris