Op-Ed:Reaction to Trump’s Refusal to Commit a Peaceful Transition

By Sarah Nicell || Contributing Writer

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” President Trump declared last Wednesday, adding, “Get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very… there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation” (Forbes).

A continuation? many questioned following that viral response from the current Commander-in-Chief, which raised eyebrows everywhere. To deny his constituents a peaceful conclusion to his four-year term if beaten by Biden in November, is to disregard a presidential tradition that has followed all losing bids to date. Even the newest Battleship player knows that if their boat is sunk, they have to remove it from the board.

When the people vote, the victor must move in and the loser must move out, regardless of their desire to stay. It is routine, and it is just. Our government is nowhere close to perfect, and it surely needs large-scale reforms, but the manner by which a sitting president makes their exit is not one of them. 

This year’s election, due to regulations put in place for COVID-19, will differ from any previous year’s. This is not a question; 2020 has been filled with twists and turns, and changes to the ways we cast our ballots should not come as a surprise. With the pandemic still a present threat and many still contracting the virus, voting as normal, particularly in big cities, will not be possible. Many states are adopting a vote-by-mail system this November, with the majority still allowing in-person voting as well. Pennsylvania is one of those states, enabling voters to exercise our most fundamental right in a way that feels safe for us.

With prior knowledge of Trump’s hatred of mail-in ballots in mind, certainly the president will not concede, regardless of what poll numbers announce. There are a plethora of scapegoats to use, and some may even hold weight. Mix-ups or possibly fraudulent mail-in voting (though a method of voting Trump himself has opted for), close numbers in swing states, demands for recounts, and even the recent “naked ballot” problem here in Pennsylvania could all ultimately justify claims of a rigged election. Regardless of their validity, though, Donald Trump will use anything at his disposal to ensure that Joe Biden is not inaugurated in January. Politics are strategic, and it is clear that these controversies will be just another pawn in the fight for reelection.

Biden, on the other hand, is hopeful that mail-in voting will go smoothly, stating, “the American people aren’t going to be shut down in this election” (NBC). Despite Trump’s claims, the Democratic nominee believes that citizens of the United States know better than to fall for the same tricks we see from the President on Twitter every day. However, one can never be too confident, especially in a situation as volatile as this one.

The military and members of the Pentagon have established that regardless of the direction that the 2020 Presidential Election goes, they will not interfere. Whether it be through the Insurrection Act following electoral altercations or forcibly removing the president from the White House, those within the Pentagon have no intention of sticking their foot in the door. 

“The Department of Defense does not play a role in the transition of power after an election,” stated US Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt of the Pentagon on Thursday (CNN). This fact, at the very least, deescalates the militarization fears that have built up surrounding future electoral protests that will surely ensue no matter the result in November.

So, maybe we have something to worry about come November. Or maybe the transition between presidents (or terms) will be a smooth one. Regardless of the result, it is incredibly important that you exercise your vote in a way that makes you feel safe and heard. And that you exercise your right wherever you believe it will pack the biggest punch… because believe it or not, you won’t be satisfied unless you go in swinging一and hopefully with your left.

First-Year Sarah Nicell is a Contributing Writer. Her email is snicell@fandm.edu.

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