What is American Interregnum?

The pop-up newsletter covering the transition period from November 3rd, 2020 to January 21st, 2021

Many observers agree that the days following the US presidential election on November 3rd, 2020 will present unique challenges to the country. In this deeply polarized, high stakes period, many interests will vie for advantage to shape the nation’s politics, and potentially the outcome of the election itself.

Campaigns are lawyering up, and legal battles are already underway. The President complains almost daily that the outcome will not be certain on election night, alleging- with no evidence- that he can only be defeated by vast mail-in ballot fraud. The situation is made more dramatic by a looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But even if the outcome of the election is more or less clear in a reasonable period of time, a great deal will remain uncertain. Will the outcome appear legitimate to the losing side? What will a new cabinet look like, for newly elected President Joe Biden or for a second term President Trump? How will political coalitions across the spectrum realign? What issues will rise to the fore to dominate the nation’s politics next spring?

The word “interregnum” is defined variously as “a period between the end of one person's time as ruler or leader and the coming to power of the next ruler or leader,” or as a pause in the continuity of the social order. The weeks between November 3rd, 2020 and January 21st, 2021- when presumably a new President will be inaugurated- may well be amongst the most crucial in our history.

We think so, at least. And we reckon many of you do, as well. So we are introducing this pop-up newsletter to collect and comment on the scenarios, news, ideas and events that will shape the transition period. In the days after the election, we will cover events as they transpire, paying special attention to the ways in which citizens can participate in this moment in history.

We hope you will join us. And, please, tell your friends. We’ve set up a free two-week trial so you can give it a whirl, and there are multiple subscription options available. And note: we promise to suspend all subscriptions after the inauguration of the next President of the United States.

Editor’s Note 9/24: we were pleased to see Barton Gellman use the term “interregnum” in his much discussed piece in The Atlantic. But no, we didn’t come up with the name after reading his article! (Just clearing that up in case you were wondering.)