As the last gasp of the Trump presidential run for 2020 comes to an end, he and Republicans continue to threaten American democracy by refusing to concede the race.
Opinion by Solomon Smith, Political News Editor
A peaceful transfer of power has been one of the central pillars of a stable American democracy, but President Donald J. Trump seeks to uproot this long-standing tradition.
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," reads the oath of office for the President.
This passage obliges the president to care for the institutions of democracy while living in the people’s house, the White House, and long after they have moved out. Conceding a loss is part of good sportsmanship, a sign of respect and part of the necessary decorum that shores up a healthy transference of power. On the Netflix series “The Queen's Gambit,” 9-year-old Beth Harmon throws a fit instead of laying down her king. Trump’s behavior one ups her.
After the election was called with former Vice President Joe Biden at 306 estimated electoral vote to Trump’s 232, according to the Washington Post, instead of handing over the keys to the presidency, Trump sought to burn it down. First, he and Republicans set the kindling by casting doubt on every aspect of the election (from mail-in votes to ballot counting), then added the heat with frivolous lawsuits in every battleground state and finally breathed life into it by fanning the flames of dissent among die-hard Trump voters looking for a reason to overturn the system.
After more than a week — as the president and the Republican party continue to denigrate the voting process — Trump made baseless claims about the race from the East Room of the White House on Monday, Nov. 5.
“This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election,” said Trump. “They’re trying to rig an election and we can’t let that happen.”
Trump is setting a precedent which weakens the roots of democracy (the vote), but worse has slowed the continuous workings of the government. With 22 court cases on the dockets of the Supreme Court, according to SCOTUSblog.com, and only one win, Trump has sought to overturn the election through legal trickery by disenfranchising Americans. In his world, only votes for him should count.
Trump’s attempts to overturn a fairly run election because he did not win has gotten as far as it has because Republican leaders have not vigorously defended the election process for fear of losing power in Congress. Dictatorships and illiberal democracies are not created only at gunpoint. They are also birthed by the methodical dismantling of democratic norms that seem innocuous, like a peaceful transfer of power. Trump has created a rot, a distrust in the founding principal of stability in America’s democracy. It is slow moving but no less destructive.
The law and the Constitution are clear: on Jan. 20, Biden will become president, but the unraveling of our constitutional norms has begun and America will need both parties to stop it.