USF Professor on 2020 Presidential Election and Fallout


MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — The occasions in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 6 not solely shocked the nation and the world, but additionally served because the fruits of months—if not years—of simmering uncertainty, doubt, and outright mistrust in some circles of America’s established electoral course of.

“This has actually been extraordinary,” says Judithanne Scourfield McLaughlan, Ph.D. “We actually haven’t seen something like this earlier than.”


What You Want To Know

  • The violent response to the 2020 presidential election was unprecedented in American politics

  • USF professor Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLaughlan cites misinformation as the principle trigger

  • She believes schooling relatively than laws is the best instrument for future elections

McLaughlan is an affiliate professor of political science on the College of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. She’s a Fulbright Scholar and founding father of the college’s Heart for Civic Engagement; along with instructing American politics, public and constitutional legislation and judicial course of, she has direct expertise in our nation’s political course of, having labored on the Supreme Court docket and Division of Justice in addition to on a number of election campaigns—together with her personal, as a candidate for the Florida Senate.

“We’re the oldest constitutional democracy at the moment, and our respect for the rule of legislation and the peaceable transition of energy has actually been our hallmark for a whole bunch of years,” she says. “And what we noticed final week was surprising, horrifying, and unprecedented.”

America has definitely seen its share of contentious elections, the newest modern-times instance being the 2000 race between then-Vice President Al Gore and Republican contender George W. Bush. It took a Supreme Court docket choice to settle that election, and even then the nation noticed nothing that approached the extent of division, protest and, finally, violence that marked President Donald Trump’s loss to former Vice President Joe Biden.

So what, precisely, made the 2020 election so divisive?

“Donald Trump,” says McLaughlan. “Donald Trump has been spreading lies and disinformation for a few years. We might return to the entire birther motion… It’s been years, a few years of lies and disinformation.”

Expertise, within the type of social media, has an ever-growing affect on the lives and beliefs of Americans, who naturally vote on what they know—or what they assume they know. The truth that there was no proof of the sort of widespread voter fraud, tampering, and malfeasance President Trump claims led to the 2020 election being “stolen” is not any match for the echo chamber of the web, through which residents can hear what they select repeated and amplified time and again.

“[The electoral process] just isn’t a damaged system,” McLaughlan says. “There are folks in authority saying that it’s damaged, however it’s completely not true. Anybody who’s trying on the course of, trying on the courtroom instances and paying consideration is aware of that it isn’t true.”

Regardless of the info, the 2020 presidential election precipitated a large rift in America, one which erupted into deadly violence on Wednesday, January 6, when a pro-Trump demonstration turned an armed revolt as some protestors stormed the USA Capitol in an obvious try to disrupt the certification of Electoral School votes in favor of President-elect Biden. It’s a day that, as they are saying, will dwell in infamy, a day that has since been endlessly in comparison with 9/11 as a pivotal level within the story of the USA. However whereas the occasions of January 6 will stay scorched within the collective American reminiscence, their direct influence on the way forward for our electoral course of is much less instantly obvious.

“A few of this isn’t going to have the ability to be modified means of statute,” McLaughlan says. “It is a disaster in civic schooling. We have to do a greater job serving to our residents to discern what’s credible.”

If the issue is certainly one of tradition and notion relatively than course of, then it’s extra vital than ever that our governmental processes be perceived as intact, practical, and resolute—and, above all, accountable, even when meaning impeaching a president an unprecedented second time.

“The glory of our system is that now we have a written Structure, and the explanation now we have this Structure is to have a restricted authorities, and it must be enforced and upheld, and if we simply walked away or tried to faux like [January 6] did not occur, I feel that may even be worse,” McLaughlan says. “Our religion and confidence in our democracy is essentially the most elementary factor that underlies every little thing else, so to disregard that out of some sense of expediency can be to disregard the essential tenets of our democracy.

“I don’t assume it’s partisan,” she provides. “I feel one wants to face up for our democracy.”



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