The long awaited inauguration of the United States of America often referred to as the mother of democracy and the largest economy and of course, the most powerful country in the world would be taking place today Wednesday the 20th day January, 2021, as its forty sixth president will be inaugurated. This inauguration has generated a lot of acrimonious controversies leading to internally generated insurrection on the 6th of January 2021 including the persistent insistence of the outgoing President, Donald Trump. Trump had contended that the Presidential election of 3rd November, 2020, was stolen from him.
Amidst general disapproval of his conspiracy theory, it is necessary that members of the Nigerian public should be presented with some critical and vital information regarding the presidential inauguration in America since its birth and over two hundred and forty years ago. Armed with these facts, members of the listening public would be well informed in order to make objective opinion, particularly as we borrowed our presidential system from the United States of America.
The first presidential inauguration took place in 1789. That was the inauguration of George Washington, the first president of the United States regarded as the father of the nation due to his pioneering role in fashioning to stabilizing the Presidency. Since then, the country has had over forty-five inaugurations which follow successful presidential elections. Although most of the presidential elections have gone without controversies, few did not go without some controversies trailing them. Those that witnessed some controversies were specifically about eight of them as follows:
In 1876, because of disputed returns from several states and accusations that one Oregon elector was ineligible; neither candidate was able to capture the 185 electoral votes needed for victory. The Senate and House of Representatives deadlocked on how to count the votes and finally agreed to establish an electoral commission, which after an independent member had to drop out, was made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. The commission gave the election to Hayes (8-7). Congressional Democrats then used a series of stalling tactics to delay confirmation of the vote.
Eventually, in what many believe to be a compromise in which the Republicans agreed to a conciliatory attitude toward the South (in the midst of Reconstruction) in return for a Hayes presidency, some Democrats began to support Hayes. Congress confirmed his election on March 2, 1877. In 1888, Although Grover Cleveland, the 22nd president, lost his re-election campaign in 1888 against Harrison, he returned to the White House in 1893 as the 24th president.
Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia in 1841, just one month after taking office. In 1948, Thomas Dewey, the governor of New York, had run for president once before, against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and lost in a close race. Truman, FDR’s vice president, became president on April 12, 1945, after Roosevelt’s death.
Truman was seen as an underdog going into the 1948 election—so much so that the Chicago Tribune printed newspapers with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” A picture of the victorious Truman holding the newspaper is one of the most famous photos in U.S. history. Thurmond won 39 electoral votes. In 1960 with his victory by a scant of 120,000 votes, the 43-year-old Kennedy became the youngest-ever U.S. president. Nixon was 47–only four years older.
Voters feared that Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, might be controlled by the Catholic Church. He was the nation’s first Catholic U.S. president. (In 2009, Joe Biden became the country’s first Catholic vice President and the third Catholic major-party presidential candidate in 2020.) Kennedy’s relaxed demeanor and telegenic looks gave him the edge in four televised debates; many credit these debates for his eventual victory. In 2000, election was one of four elections in U.S. history in which the winner of the electoral votes did not carry the popular vote.
Gore conceded on election night, but retracted his concession when he learned that the vote in Florida was too close to call. A recount of the Florida votes ensued, but was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ralph Nader has formally run for president four times; the first time was in 1996. He was also a write-in candidate in 1992.
In 2016, the election was one of five elections in U.S. history in which the winner of the electoral votes did not carry the popular vote. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party. Trump was the first president in more than 60 years with no experience serving in Congress or as a governor (the only others were Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover). At the age of 70, Trump was the oldest president in U.S. history (Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was sworn in).” Also, Donald Trump was the first billionaire to contest for the presidency in American history. However, another billionaire, Rock Feller contested for the presidency during the era of Gerald Ford but dropped out.
Furthermore, in its two hundred and forty five year history, American presidency has produced a lot of historical facts. The first incumbent U.S. president to die was William Henry Harrison, on April 4, 1841, only one month after Inauguration Day. He died from complications of what at the time was believed to be pneumonia. The second American president to die in office, Zachary Taylor, who died on July 9, 1850 from acute gastroenteritis. Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. president to be assassinated. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth on the night of April 14, 1865 and died the following morning.
His assassination was drawn by white racists who opposed his granting of the slaves general emancipation (freedom from slavery). Sixteen years later, on July 2, 1881, James A. Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, surviving for over two months before dying on September 19, 1881. Re-elected to a second term in November 1900, William McKinley died eight days after being shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901. Next, Warren G. Harding suffered a heart attack, and died on August 2, 1923.
On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt (who had just begun his fourth year in office) collapsed and died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. The most recent U.S. president to die in office was John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. It must be said that most of the assassinations were done by the white racists who have refused to accept the BLACKS and peoples of other colors as United States citizens.
In addition, Ronald Regan was shot but he survived the assassination attempt and went ahead to complete his terms. Also, Hillary Clinton was the first female to contest for the presidency without making it. However from what we knew now, Donald Trump with the help of the Russians rigged the election. Barrack Obama was the first black American to become President. However, it must be recalled that his eight years term was punctuated with incessant embarrassment, harassment by the white racists who never believed that a black American could be president.
Similarly, Gerald Ford was the first person in America to become vice President as well as president without contesting any election because he was chosen by Nixon to replace Spiror Agnew who resigned as a Vice President. Furthermore, Gerald Ford became the president when Nixon resigned following inequitable impeachment by the senate. From the above narration, it could be seen that people of other colors have suffered a lot of segregation and discrimination in the United States. Yet, they have persisted and remained undiluted by committed to the cause of the American nation.
Unfortunately, little did the people of America and the world realize that Donald Trump was all and all a racist of unlimited capacity who ingeniously used his wealth to hoodwink Americans to vote for him as the President? Unfortunately, the presidential election of 2020 between the current President Donald Trump and Joe Biden which generality of the world considered to be the most peaceful, very fair and incontrovertibly adjudged to be one of the most peaceful election had suddenly been portrayed by ever loquacious Donald Trump through his manufacturing of, “Conspiracy Theory” has turned out to be highly controversial.
In order to prove his conspiracy theory, he engaged the best attorneys in the United States to pursue the case in order to overturn the result of the election. Consequently, he and his team of attorneys embarked on legal processes numbering over sixty-six in many states in the United States particularly Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, and many others. One by one each of the suits was dismissed at either the state or the Supreme Court levels. Owing to his blind ambition, he became very stubborn and continued to insist that the election was stolen from him.
The highlight of his effort to overturn the election result which Joe Biden a democrat won, a revolution like insulation in the capital of the United States on the 6th of January when members of the congress were meeting to re-certify the election as required by the constitution. In the cause of the ensuing fracas, rampages and mayhem in which over four hundred insurrectionists participated, the sacred capitol was ransacked and many members of the congress scampered for safety. In the end about five persons including a member of the Capitol police man lost his life.
Finally, in all and all, in spite of all these wahala and conflicts generated by Donald Trump, the American presidency and government have remained solid and have survived every major political upheaval. This can be a lesson for Nigerians and other African countries. This is what makes America inflexibly solid.
Osuji, is a public opinion analyst and in-house columnist and writes in from Owerri.