By Larry Levine –
Let’s get something straight: in an election the winner is the person with the most votes. It doesn’t matter if the other person concedes. On swearing in day the person with the most votes gets to put a hand in the air and say, “I do solemnly swear …” That applies even to the Presidency of the United States.
This whole concession business that’s been in the news the last several days is largely a creation of the media acting as if a concession is necessary to put a period at the end of the story of an election campaign. It isn’t. If someone concedes, the vote count continues. If the final tally shows the other person got the most votes, guess what. The concession doesn’t count. Most votes = “I do.”
It usually doesn’t matter. City council? School board? Even Mayor or Governor. On a fixed date one person leaves office and another puts a hand in the air and takes over.
When it comes to the Presidency it still matters not at all to the election result. But when the defeated candidate is the incumbent President who, along with his sycophants, won’t cooperate in the transfer of authority and power to the newly elected President it does matter. A lot. They are putting the good and welfare and national security of the nation on the line.
Whether President Donald Trump can force himself to say with finality that he lost and President-elect Joe Biden won doesn’t even matter to the Trump legacy, which hardly could be tarnished any further.
But when Trump and his minions refuse to provide Biden and his team with access to daily national security briefings they are acting as de facto enemy agents. They are saying it’s OK for the new administration to take office without the information necessary to defend the nation.
And when General Services Administration head Emily Murphy refuses to sign the paperwork for the transition process to begin, she is saying either she is too frightened of Trump to move forward or she just doesn’t care if the Biden administration has to limp into office.
Biden has called Trump’s refusal to concede an “embarrassment.” The entire Trump presidency has been an embarrassment. Why should it end any differently? That 72 million people voted to re-elect Trump is an embarrassment as well as a frightening commentary on the character of the nation.
We can get passed an embarrassment. Certainly, as a nation we have behaved in embarrassing ways before and witnessed embarrassing behavior by our leaders before. What is more concerning is that the governance of the nation is being undermined, knowingly and with intent. And what is even more frightening is that there doesn’t seem to be a single adult in the roster of Republican Party leadership who is willing to step up for the nation.
We’re fortunate this time that President-elect Biden is not some new kid on the block. He understands the levers of power in the American government, he has a network of experienced and trusted advisors to assist him, and he has independent personal relationships with leaders of nations around the globe. He doesn’t need Donald Trump or one of his obstructionist functionaries to allow him to move forward although it would be more efficient and better for the nation if they would at least get out of the way.
But what of next time, when some future Trump decides to stand in the way of a transition to the new administration? Perhaps it would be a good idea to strip away the voluntary aspect of this and craft a set of rules that will guarantee a smooth transition. For 244 years we have trusted to the good will of individuals and loyalty to country. Donald Trump has taught us that isn’t enough.