“Trump isn’t going to be president anymore,” said John Oliver at the top of Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight.
It was clear that Oliver was elated as he showed footage of people all around the country celebrating Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden. He referred to it as a “reverse 9-11” saying that it was a combination of “complete euphoria” and “abiding disgust for Rudy Giuliani”.
There was a level of relief at the end of a truly tense and draining week as the country — and the world — waited as votes were counted to eventually reveal Biden as President-elect and Kamala Harris making history as the first Black, South Asian and female Vice President-elect.
Oliver said it was all worth it because of how it ended — especially with an election that was during a global pandemic which required patience. Of course, what was totally predictably was how Trump reacted as the count unfolded. Long before the results, Oliver said he took advantage of the fact that he was ahead in states and claiming victory.
From there, Trump and his team were doing everything they could to subvert the election. After Michigan was favoring Biden, Trump tweeted “We hereby claim the State of Michigan”. As many of us know, this is not the way it works. “Calling dibs on states is not how we elect presidents,” said Oliver. “We use the Electoral College which is at least 3% less stupid than that.”
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To help Trump’s scheme to win the election, Giuliani arrived in Pennsylvania to try and stop the count of votes with an impassioned, unhinged speech at a press conference where he threw around wild accusations with no evidence. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman compared Guliani’s press conference as a “bad House of Cards episode”.
“He’s right,” agreed Oliver. “It’s like House of Cards because it’s full of political intrigue, there’s a sexual predator pretending to be president at the very heart of it and it’s gone on for four seasons too long.”
To add to that, Trump’s camp was consistently inconsistent with Michigan supporters protesting to stop the count while Arizona supporters were chanting “Count the votes!”
Trump’s messy recipe for taking the election also included many of his tweets being flagged for disputed and misleading news about the election. Meanwhile, Giuliani tweeted out an article that said at least 21,000 dead people voted in Pennsylvania. Rumors were also flying around that Trump ballots were being marked with Sharpies therefore disqualifying them. All of these were not true. Even Eric Trump joined in the fun by tweeting a fake video of ballots being burned in Virginia Beach — which the city said was fake a day before he tweeted it.
Probably one of the most memorable conspiracy theory moment from Trump’s camp was at the Nevada registrar during a press briefing where a guy in a “BBQ, Beer and Freedom” T shirt interrupted shouting claims that the “Biden crime family is stealing our freedom”. His antics received little to no reaction.
To make the plot thicken more, Trump has filed multiple lawsuits in various states, with many of them finding no evidence in various cases. However, there is one issue Trump has leaned on.
Oliver said, “One big Trump complaint that he is making a lot right now — so you’ll probably be hearing it for the rest of your life — is that the election is illegitimate because Republican poll watchers weren’t given access to the ballot counting in Pennsylvania.”
Trump tweeted on Saturday: “Bad things happened which our observers were not allowed to see”. Oliver points out that it is a tough charge to make stick by the nature of the accusation because you didn’t see them.
“The embarrassing flimsiness of these fraud claims starts to make sense when you see how desperately the Trump camp was trying to drum them up,” he added. Trump has also gone so far as to start a voter suppression hotline where people were able to call in and report on irregularities at voting polls.
Oliver also comments on how all these pointless lawsuits are clearly going to cost a lot of money which is probably why they spent the last few days emailing supporters aggressively asking for money.
And just when you think it can’t get more obnoxious, Oliver gives us more to chew on: “Perhaps the single most pathetic part of the entire week was in the moments before this race was called on Saturday morning, Trump tweeted out ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!'”
In this “absolute year of a week” Oliver clearly states, “The fact is, Trump lost this election — he lost.”
He continued, “All that bullsh*t which we have grown accustomed to seeing work did not work this time.”
The Trump family is not going to stop with their drifting and lying. “Once he’s out of the White House, it’s just not going to have the same effect anymore,” Oliver stated. “It’s not going to directly impact every American’s life and that alone is f*cking fantastic.”
At this point in the episode, Oliver said that he wants to overanalyze the election and what the Biden presidency will bring. Before he did this, he allowed the audience 30 seconds to experience joy before he dove into his overanalyzing.
After the 30 seconds was up (he had a coundown clock), Oliver said that there are two key things to take away from this election. The good news is that there was a record-breaking turnout over 74 million people who chose to kick Trump out office. The less good news is that over 70 million people voted for him and everything says and stands for. “That is something we are going to have to reckon with for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Oliver then cut to a clip of Biden where he was talking about how Trump’s ugliness and divisiveness is not what America is. This was something Biden said at many of his rallies. Oliver said it was a nice sentiment but argued that dividing America based on race, religion, gender and origin has frequently been very much what America is.
“We cannot and should not ignore that millions voted for Trump,” he said. He added, “Even in the joy and the relief at the end of this week it does feel worth remembering just how scary it felt as it was unfolding.” He referenced the swarm of cars practically attacking a Biden-Harris bus in Texas as well as the protestors in Detroit demanding they stop counting voice in a majority Black district.
“The last four years were not just about one man and this isn’t just about the last four years and even that one man is by no means going away,” he said before cutting to a clip of Fox News that essentially said that Trump is the current and future leader of the Republican party. If it wont be him, it will be someone else just as divisive.
Oliver said: “There is no easy answer to who we are”, referencing Biden’s speech. He notes the incredible, historical election of Harris as well as the presidency of Barack Obama — two Black people holding the highest offices in the world. At the same time, Trump was between them. “all of that together is kind of who we are,” comments Oliver. “It’s important not to ignore that reality.”
He then goes on to unpack out Indigenous and Latino voters came out in record numbers in Arizona while Black voters — particularly Black women — showed up in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
“In the days and the weeks ahead, there is likely going to be a lot of talk from white people in how Black and Brown voters ‘saved us’ — which just kind of misses the point a little bit,” said Oliver. “They weren’t voting as a favor for white people so much as voting to protect themselves and their communities from someone trying to do them active harm.”
Oliver gives a shout out to Stacey Abrams and many Black women in Georgia like Helen Butler, Nse Ufot, Deborah Scott and Tamieka Atkins who helped register hundred and thousands of people in the past two years. Half of them were people of color and they helped mobilize them to turn out to the polls.
Even before the presidential race was called, Abrams was already tweeting details about the Georgia runoff in January and making sure that voters request their ballots because, as Oliver puts it, “she knows what she’s f*cking doing”.
He continued, “And if the Democrats are smart, which they are not always, they should listen to her and activists like her going forward.”
“It is going to be a long road to dig us out of the place the last four years have put us in,” he said. “That is why it might be so important to remember the moments of triumph that this week has managed to provide”
He talked about how Ritchie Torres won a seat in the U.S. House to New York’s 14th Congressional District, becoming the first openly gay LGBTQ Afro-Latinx member of Congress. He put some shine on Mondaire Jones who also made history as one of the first Black LGBTQ+ members of Congress to win his election. He mentioned Cori Bush who made history as the first Black Congresswoman in the history of Missouri as well as Sarah McBride who became the first openly trans person to be elected to a state senate seat.
He pointed out various victories around the country that showed progress: Florida raising minimum wage and how every state with a marijuana initiative on the ballot approved it. Above all, Oliver reiterated his excitement for Trump’s loss which means no more Stephen Miller, Steven Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos and Mike Pence. He ended with “no more Jared Kushner”, which he seemed most excited about.
He ended the episode on a high note: “After what’s just happened, I frankly think we all have the right to put on our masks, go outside and party like octopuses on f*cking ecstasy.”
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