Trump’s threat to not cede power is a threat to democracy

Some Republicans push back against Trump’s threat to avoid peaceful transfer

Trumps threat to not cede power is a threat to democracy

During a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 23, President Trump threatened that he would not commit to a peaceful transition if he loses the election saying “We’re going to have to see what happens,”. The next day Trump doubled down on that threat, adding to many fears that he would not take the results of the upcoming election if they are not in his favor.

This issue of a non-peaceful transition and Trump’s push to make ballots seem illegitimate could mean that even if we find out the winner of the election on election day, it may not be settled for months if the situation is brought to court. The Los Angeles Times stated that “The campaign has spoken with at least one Republican leader in Pennsylvania about the possibility of citing voting irregularities to reject a Joe Biden win there and have the legislature direct the state’s electors to back Trump, according to the Atlantic. It’s a strategy Trump could also pursue in other states.”

Even though Trump has been mentioning issues with peaceful transition, many Republican senators have pushed back against this idea. They quickly took to Twitter to express their thoughts about the president’s statements. 

Senator Mitt Romney wrote: “Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”

Senator Mitch McConnell wrote: “The winner of the Nov. 3, election will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”

Senator Marco Rubio wrote: “As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election… It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one… And at noon on Jan. 20, 2021, we will peacefully swear in the President”

Senator Lindsey Graham spoke on Fox and Friends during the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24 and stated “People wonder about the peaceful transfer of power, I can assure you it will be peaceful… the court will decide if the Republicans lose and we will accept that result.”

While it is surprising that these Republican Senators are pushing back against the president, this shows that Trump’s threat to not give up peaceful power is a threat to our Democracy and our Constitution. While the 20th Amendment is set to protect the U.S. from a president who refuses to leave, having Republicans stand against Trump eases some anxieties that this election will lead to more democratic erosion. 

During the presidential debate on Sept. 29, Trump avoided questions that the moderator asked him about peaceful transfer and voting, instead suggesting that there still has not been a peaceful transition since he won in 2016 “When I listened to Joe talking about a transition- there’s been no transition from when I won… there was no transition because they came after me trying to do a coup… so don’t tell me about a ‘free transition.” The president seems to be conflating criticism and skepticism of him with a non-peaceful transition when in reality they are two very different things. 

When asked during the debate to tell his supporters to stay calm while the votes are being counted, Trump instead suggested that people self-police while voting saying “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.” While this may seem like a harmless act, having citizens actively watching others in the polls means they may feel inclined to self-police if they believe someone is doing something wrong during the polling process. 

Overall, Republican senators seem to be trying to uphold the way elections have historically run, but will they still think this way if the results of the elections are not in favor of Trump? We saw something similar to this issue during the Bush v. Gore election of 2000 when a Florida Supreme Court request was sent for a recount of ballots but the Supreme Court overturned the decision. When asked during the debate if he would turn to the Supreme Court to look at the ballots, Trump said “I think I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely.” However, with the pending appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, this could just be a play to have a Supreme Court that is so politically swayed that it votes in favor of President Trump, even if the ballots say otherwise.


Email Talya at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @TorresTalya

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