This past week the American public, no less the world, learned that President Donald Trump, stated clearly and repeatedly that he would not commit to peaceful transition of power unless he wins the upcoming election. He argued that if he loses, the election was fraudulent. And if he wins, it wasn’t. This hardly came as shock to all of us who’ve been observing over the past 3-and- a-half years one of, if not the most, erratic and unprepared contemporary political leaders of the free world.
Pundits are spinning out various scenarios, including violence on the streets, and how Trump, his supporters, and enablers might frustrate the transition if he loses. But whether he leaves peacefully or not, we can’t lose sight of the fact that he may continue do as much damage to liberal policies and practices as possible and will try very hard to push through a GOP agenda that includes rolling back measures to improve accessibility to health care, police reform, protecting the environment.
While Trump tries to erode our democracy by casting doubts in the most essential democratic principle – the right to vote, the United States has been fighting a pandemic (more than 7,168,077 infections and more than 205,372 since January 21, 2020) and an 8.4 percent unemployment. Trump has been unable or unwilling to devise and coordinate a national strategy to battle COVID-19.
With so much at stake, not just our economic power but the lives of our citizens, one has to ask why can’t incumbent presidents simply leave their position after the election is decided?
Does the public seriously believe that candidates running for election haven’t put any thought into what their cabinet or executive might look like? Do they really need two months or so in the case of presidential elections to finally take this task as seriously?
Although some critics suggest that we don’t want to make government look more like the private sector, maybe in the case of political transitions this can be an exception. In the private sector when people are fired the boss either calls them at home and tells them not to go to work tomorrow, or the director of human relations, or their immediate subordinate walk into the persons office (sometimes with a security guard) and they are escorted out of the building.
Why does this happen? It’s because we worry that the person will do something to sabotage the workplace, or they will steal so-called company secrets.
In the case of presidential transition of power, we should consider either having elections in early January or shortening the official presidential term to three years ten months (my preference). The Nov 3 to Jan 20 period is a huge transition time and in the hands of this president (even if he were to leave peacefully) this period of time will give him plenty of time to cause more harm to the country and its citizens.
Maybe this lengthy transition period was appropriate back in 1789 when communication and transportation processes operated at glacial speed, compared to now. But today, due to innumerable advances in technology, could we not carry out a transition in a week or two?
This brings us to Trump and the American presidency, members of Congress. The way we used to do things doesn’t have to be the way we continue to do things. Maybe we will not solve this quandary in this election cycle, but it should be something that the American public should consider in the future. If Biden wins and everything settles, Trump should leave as soon as possible.