When president-elect Joe Biden won the presidential election on Nov. 7, President Trump set into motion his plan to turn the government into shambles. Trump has demanded a recount in many states, declared fraud nationwide and has totally disregarded Biden’s win. Trump is disrupting the transition of power, which is threatening the state of our democracy. A peaceful transition of power represents a healthy democracy, which we vitally need, especially during a pandemic.
The election of 1800 marked the first time in which the leader of a political party handed the reins of government to his opponent. In 1801, when John Adams lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson, he committed to the first peaceful transition of power. This was a humiliating defeat for Adams, but his willingness to peacefully surrender power to Jefferson, despite whatever personal quarrels stood in the way, was an important moment in history.
The transition begins with a concession speech, in which the defeated candidate acknowledges their rival’s victory. The concession speech also traditionally covers the importance of American values, praises the democratic system and assures people of the fair process of the election. The next steps in this transition include a long list of meetings, filling in the president on national security, etc.
Inauguration Day is the final step in the transition of power, in which the outgoing president, their spouse and the vice president ride to the capitol with the president-elect, their spouse and the vice president-elect. This is where power is ultimately handed off to the new president. Inauguration Day has been an American ritual since the 1800s.
Now let’s get to Trump. The meetings in the transition of power allow for both health teams to discuss with each other. Now more than ever, we need to have these crucial meetings. We are living in a pandemic, deaths are totaling over 1,000 a day, and we need Biden’s COVID-19 plan immediately. Biden’s team has been pushing to start holding these talks, but Trump is holding back; he is too busy forcing states to hold recounts. Trump is responsible for some of these deaths; by not allowing for this new plan to activate, he is only hurting the health of U.S. patients suffering from the virus.
Trump is pushing our country towards autocracy. People believe what the president says. When Trump states that the election was unfair, his supporters believe this as well, which makes the new president seem illegitimate. Because all of these people will begin to question our system, democracy could take a fall. Trump is creating bigger issues in the government than ever imagined.
The last thing we want is violence during the transition of power. However, if Trump continues to guide his Republican supporters in the wrong direction, violence will likely become an issue. His supporters are angered by the results of the election now that they believe it was fraudulent too. Most concerning is that their next step could be violence. We could see these supporters take to the streets and use violence to “save their country,” as they view it. Trump needs to begin this transition of power before things get out of hand.
The destruction of our rituals by a president who is trying to hold onto his power should inflict worry. By straying away from these traditions, he could bring severe consequences to our system of democracy. This could lead our nation in the wrong direction, and regress the years it took for America to become a leading global democracy.