Editorial | Do not dismiss Trump’s noncommitment to transfer power


Yuri Gripas, Abaca Press | TNS

President Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

President Donald Trump on Wednesday would not commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.

Specifically, when asked to commit to a peaceful transferral of power after the election, Trump responded, “Well, we’ll have to see what happens.” This answer is extremely concerning, especially coming from an elected leader, yet it wasn’t given prime, page-one real estate at any major U.S. daily paper.

Trump’s implication that he will hold onto power should he lose the November election is absolutely unacceptable and ought to be treated as such. We cannot afford to brush off a statement that threatens one of the fundamental aspects of our democracy.

Trump’s suspiciously antidemocratic remarks have gone unchecked for far too long. He’s been giving us warning signs that he will do almost anything to hold onto the power the presidency gives him. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating a need for mass mail-in voting, Trump’s cronies have slowed down the U.S. Postal Service to stall mail-in ballots — presumably in an attempt to sway the election results to his side.

In the same interview where he said we have to “wait and see” if there will be a peaceful transfer of power, Trump said he had been “complaining very strongly about ballots” and falsely said they were out of control.

“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very, we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation,” he said.

This statement shows two things. First, Trump doesn’t respect the election process, though this isn’t news to anyone. Second, it suggests Trump anticipates he will win the election, and that he may contest the election’s results if they don’t call for him to remain in office — he’s admitted before that he won’t accept the results right off the bat.

His rush to fill the now-vacant seat on the Supreme Court plays directly into this. Trump will likely reject the election results if he loses, falsely claiming voter fraud once again, and he might take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court. If the Senate confirms a new justice in time, and the justice votes the way Trump would invariably want them to, it may tip the results in his favor.

This, however, is not how elections are supposed to be won. The president is supposed to be elected by the people, via ballots that are not purposefully obstructed. The fate of the election is not supposed to be left to the Supreme Court. The fact that the current president has admitted to wanting to tamper with and invalidate the results of the upcoming election should infuriate everyone. No one should think of this as anything less than a scheme to maintain his power and office for as long as possible.

We can no longer perpetuate the idea that Trump is “stupid” or that he knows nothing about politics. He is undeniably a cunning and smart businessman, and he knows exactly what he is doing. If we dismiss his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power — something that has happened every time a new president is elected since our country’s beginning — we are playing with fire.

Everyone needs to recognize that Trump’s behavior is dangerous and it threatens the integrity of our democracy. We cannot stand idly by and allow him to ramble about how he may or may not peacefully transfer power should he lose the election. We cannot pretend that this is normal, nor can we pretend that it is acceptable.

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