The handoff of presidential power begins | Editorial
The transition from Trump to Biden hasn’t been the smoothest, but the system - ultimately - worked.
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.

Joe Biden’s transition to the presidency began officially this week, three weeks after the Nov. 3 election and weeks into a fumbling challenge by President Donald Trump to overturn the voters’ will. The chaos wasn’t helpful, and certainly not surprising, but it showed that America’s democratic process ultimately worked. Now Biden is fast assembling a strong team to take over in January.

Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, announced Monday that the transition could commence, effectively acknowledging Biden as the president-elect even as Trump continues to challenge the election outcome in court. The move provides Biden with funds, office space and other resources to carry out the transition, and clears the way for Biden’s team members to meet with their counterparts across the federal bureaucracy. Biden’s advisors spoke in increasingly stark terms in recent days of how further delays endangered the federal government’s ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Trump relented after business leaders, national security experts and some senior Republicans warned that the standoff only threatened America by emboldening its adversaries.

In Michigan, elections officials on Monday certified Biden’s victory, ending a harried bid by Trump and some Republicans to delay the process in hopes of overturning the result. Pennsylvania followed suit on Tuesday, just as Georgia began a second recount in response to the Trump campaign’s request, in what’s widely seen as a hopeless effort to nullify Biden’s narrow win there. The courts in several states have also proved themselves capable of dismissing Trump’s baseless claims of rampant voter fraud. For all the flurry of activity, the various branches of government have coalesced quickly to legitimize the clear outcome of a divided election.

The former vice president began naming members of his national security team Tuesday, selecting Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, among others. Biden is drawing on his decades of Washington experience to assemble a deep bench rich in diversity. He named the former deputy director of the CIA, Avril Haines, to be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence, and is expected to name Janet Yellen, the former head of the Federal Reserve, as the first woman to head the Treasury Department.

By the measure of the Trump era, three weeks between the Election Day uncertainty and the formal start of the Biden transition is hardly much of a roller coaster. Even with the pandemic surging, more Americans are showing confidence, thanks to encouraging news on several potential vaccines and an election recognized as settled. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied, breaking above 30,000 for the first time this week. The nation faces an uncertain few months, with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rising, and with too many Americans traveling to family events for the Thanksgiving holiday. But the system of checks and balances on the nation’s democratic process has worked, and a new year, and a new president, are around the corner.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news