A Peaceful Transition of Power

Dr. SJ made the most delicious lemon cake, and as we sat around the table sipping tea and licking lemon glaze off our fingers, she asked me, “Do you think it’s possible that Trump could actually win?” “Sure,” I replied, in the “anything’s possible” way that I do. Not so much at the hand of people who like Trump, but at the hand of people who reject the possibility that Biden will be the last liberal president, and while Trump has done enormous damage to the institutions of government out of his combination of astounding ignorance and self-aggrandizement, the institutions are still there, badly bruised but standing.

Will Biden pay back the left wing of his party, the Squad, Bernie and Liz, by letting them reinvent a nation in their image? Will they follow Biden into power and do so then? Will Biden last long enough to keep the ambitious Kamala from doing so, not because she has any belief in progressive destruction of the institutions of government but because it will promote her ambition to pretend to be woke rather than a cop?

“Sure,” I told Dr. SJ. As much as the past four years have been consumed with the hourly impulses of a fool, the next four present a harder problem, because they won’t be at the hands of a fool and won’t be so obviously idiotic. And as bad as it’s been, it can always be worse.

The peaceful transition of power is the hallmark of the United States of America. We take it for granted as it’s how our government has always worked. No matter how deep our differences, how personal the animosity, how absurd the rhetoric, an amazing thing happens every four or eight years. A bloodless coup. The old person walks out and the new person walks in. They shake hands, whether for real or show, but they then fulfill their part of this glorious regime change.

Who gives up control of this mighty government to someone they believe will do damage? Who walks away from such vast power and prestige, to the extent it’s still prestigious, on their own? After all it took to get there, who just willingly walks out the door? Our president. Our past president. It is the most amazing, wonderful thing about the existence of, and perpetuation of, our democracy that we have maintained this peaceful transfer of power after more than two centuries.

Sure, there have been shenanigans along the way. Gluing the keys of the computers. Hiding papers. Leaving nasty notes. People haven’t always been good about it, “big” in their largesse at handing over power to who they perceive as their mortal enemy. People are jerks. Yet, it happens. Every single time, it’s happened.

Will it happen again, should Joe Biden win the election?

I will presume it will, because the presumption of regularity remains integral to our institutions of government. While Trump has ignored laws and norms by using his office for his own self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement, it’s mostly been small potatoes stuff in the scheme of a nation. He’s a small potatoes guy, so it’s the best he can conceive of, and wrong as it’s been, our institutions have managed to remain intact and deal with most of it. Our courts still shut down his most dangerous schemes and prosecute his “best people.” It’s been imperfect, but Trump hasn’t managed to screw them up badly enough to end their functioning. They’re still standing.

This election will present difficulties that no prior election presented. COVID has given rise to substantial reliance on mail-in voting, and we are poorly prepared for it. While we never technically “knew” who won an election until the results were officially certified in the past, we knew. This time, we won’t know, and we’re just going to have deal with it. There will be screams of voter fraud, but while there will be instances of it, it won’t come within a million miles of mattering.

There may be disruptions, conflagrations, riots and violence at the polls, designed to create chaos and sow the belief that our election can’t be trusted and no outcome can be accepted as the true reflection of the nation’s will. A good president would do everything possible to prevent this from happening. Trump is not a good president. And if it’s not his adoring nationalist militias, it will be the forces of social justice burning down the “system.”

But until this happens, and despite the potential flamed by the New York Times in advance, I will still anticipate a fair election and a reliable outcome, even if it takes longer than anyone would like. It’s not that such concern is unwarranted, but speculative fear, even in the face of a not-insubstantial showing that the seeds have been sown for it to happen, leads only to confirmation bias. To bastardize the Washington Post’s masthead slogan, “democracy dies in hysteria.” I refuse to let hysteria dictate my choices or actions.

If and when bad things happen, we will be constrained to not only face them, but decide how much damage they’ve done to the fabric of our democracy. It may fray at the edges, but having weathered the past two centuries, it’s proven itself to be pretty damn tough. There is no reason, despite all the possibilities and screams of voter fraud and voter suppression, that we will not end up with reliable election results.

Perhaps even more importantly, we need to rely on the results rather than indulge the insanity that could surround them. It would be great if the election produced a landslide for the winner, so that no one could question that minor claims could have changed the outcome, but that’s up to the voters. It does not appear likely to happen, and so the battles will be fought over every claim, real or imagined, or just a total fabrication to try to con a nation into chaos.

Eventually, a winner will be named, even if there are some who refuse to accept the outcome as happened in 2016 to no avail. I will accept it, because the institutions of our democracy matter far more than any individual who gets to sit in the Oval Office. But if the loser of the election refuses to relinquish that seat, to leave the seat of power so the next president can take office, that’s when the line has been crossed. I can tolerate a lot of bad things for the sake of maintaining the viability of our American institutions, but I cannot tolerate the refusal to acquiesce to the peaceful transfer of power.

22 thoughts on “A Peaceful Transition of Power

  1. notnotF. LLeLeeLee BBiBilBillBilly

    Do you and Dr. SJ have separate bedrooms? If not now, when?

    The most amazing thing to me is how Dow Jones Chow Mein has endorsed the current administration. We would never have predicted. The current downturn immediately before the election portends rough waters ahead. The stock market knows! Nostradamus-breath.

    However, we agree: Somehow we’ll muddle thru. We have Nancy Pillosi and Baby Face Shumer to guide us thru while Sleepy Joe is napping. We have been thru worse, much worse. Red scares, assassinations, Richard Nixon, impeachments, etc.

    Finally, we’re tired of Mitch “The Bitch” McConnell and LynSay What? Graham Southern Cracker! A changing of the đź’‚ is impending. Black lives and White lies matter after all.

    It’s a great country. Trump tried to make it terrible again, but failed by every measure. The pandemic is the icing on the cake. Whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger.

    Reply
  2. Hunting Guy

    It’s always good to have a plan B.

    Have you given any serious thought as to what you will do if Trump retains control of the nuclear launch codes for the next four years?

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      If he’s re-elected, then I will continue to do as I’ve done with every president. If not, I have a plan, but it’s not something I will reveal unless and until it comes to pass.

      Reply
      1. John Barleycorn

        Montelargo Mexico is a pretty decent place to learn how to sail and you should be able to pick up a pretty decent sixty foot ketch down there as well.

        But I would not recommend the Pitcairn Islands to finish up the rough draft when you can make the passage over to Fiji to properly celebrate that. And Auckland is definitely the place to ponder footnote inclusions.

        If I happen to run into you on the docks in Fiji or the cafes in Auckland don’t forget to ask me about the Kingdom of Tonga…

        P.S. You would have already bought a real tractor if you had a plan so get over it already…besides everyone already knows you have always wanted your back jacket photo to be shirtless, in a gold chain, sporting a stolen horse hair peruke and a grin.

        Cheers… and don’t forget it is never too late to become a “pirate”!

        Reply
    2. Julia

      So what? It’s not a button “submit” he has to press on his phone to launch missiles. The codes are useless if the military doesn’t accept orders from somebody who’s not President. It’s also not hard to change the codes with every new admin.

      Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      On the one hand, it still can happen. On the other, they could be wrong, as could I. On the third hand, we’ll find out one way or another.

      Reply
  3. Seth Kramer

    The fear that Trump will not give up the office if he looses is overblown. A big thing in the Military is the concept of not following illegal orders. This idea is going to come to the forefront if Trump tries any post-election funny business.
    I also think Trump will not want to force the issue, because he will want to keep his viability intact so he can go on to his next grift—TrumpTV. 60 million + people at $10 subscriptions a month works best if you are the aggrieved Trump that had the Presidency stolen from him. Why risk contesting it and definitely losing?

    Reply
  4. Bob

    If there’s anything Trump’s tenure has proven, it’s that our institutions’ fealty is to themselves. The spooks whose positions and prestige depend on enmity with Russia sabotaged Trump’s foreign policy plans and set him up for two or three years of investigations on bogus allegations of collusion. DAs refuse to prosecute rioters when they’re “our” rioters. Protests are dangerous disease vectors except when we agree with the message. Teachers lobby to close schools even if it means setting an entire generation of kids back. The courts run wild with nationwide injunctions to enforce their policy preferences. The media abandons any pretense of objectivity and will never be trusted by half the population again. Meteorologists lie about f’ing hurricane forecasts! Etc., etc. Don’t get me started with what I’d have done to the intelligence agencies had I been president—Stalin? Let’s call it Truman times a thousand. The presidency is an institution, too, and it’s the only one we the people have any say in.

    Trump backed down every time. Why would he start fighting back now—because the only thing he really cares about is being president? Maybe. I doubt it, though. Trump really does have policy preferences; he’s been talking about them for decades. He just doesn’t have the fight in him. If he loses, Trump will bitch and moan and cave in like he always does.

    Reply
    1. KP

      Well, in the view from the other side of the world, you are quite right Bob.
      Trump probably tried to run it like a business where the underlings do as they are told and don’t try their hardest to sabotage your every move. He tried to stop the endless wars America is always involved in, the ceaseless bullying and subjugation of “friendly” nations, but then was shown how having some supposed enemy like China or Russia or Iran was needed for publicity purposes.
      He threatened the livelihood of whole bureaucracies and the corporations who pay to be in charge of them, in fact I’m surprised he’s still alive. If nothing else he has set the boundaries of what a President can achieve when the civil service refuse to do as they’re told.

      Sure, you can call him ignorant or a buffoon, or a jerk, but he is the closest thing to what the rest of the world know as an ordinary American, and mainly, he is not a career politician, a slimy parasite with no morals or ethics that spends their entire life living off someone else!

      (Sorry Boss, some of that description may have been stolen from lawyers..)

      Reply
  5. Joseph Masters

    Considering the presumption of regularity dates from the common law of England and Wales, and thus almost-certainly predates the British discovery of Australia and the collapse of experience and improbability in the face of emphemeralism…

    {Ed. Note: Link deleted.]

    …might Dr. SJ be worried about a Black Swan moment?

    Reply
  6. losingtrader

    Peaceful transition will happen.

    It seems the only thing left is the Donald Trump Presidential Library.
    Reddit or Otisville?

    P.S. BTW, since my securities advice represents my contribution to this blog,
    everyone should join me in taking profits and shorting the market. It doesn’t matter who wins the election. Big rally day? Short it. Which to pick? Short QQQ for a broad-based bet.
    Want something to buy? I’ll be back in December if SHG allows.

    Reply
  7. Ken Hagler

    I think the danger here is not that Trump will lose the election and refuse to leave office, but that he will _win_ the election and refuse to leave office. Him winning is not a permissible outcome, and the Democratic Party (which includes almost all of the mainstream media and the big social media companies) will be proclaiming that he lost regardless of the actual outcome, and censoring anyone who suggests otherwise. There will be nonstop calls for Trump to leave office even if he wins. The question then becomes how will those institutions react when a significant portion of the population believe something that isn’t so.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      A very interesting point. I remember when, in 2016, some refused to concede he was president, even refused to utter his name, as if either changed the outcome of the election or somehow made him less officially the president.

      Reply
      1. Carlos Prio

        I remember when, in 2016some refused to concede he was president…

        and 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and likely the next 4 years

        Its a wonder Americans have not marched to the US Capitol with pitchforks and torches to do to the Congressional elites what was done to Nat Turner… hung, drawn and quartered.

        One can only hope

        Reply

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