According to nationalarchives.gov: The swearing-in ceremony allows for the peaceful transfer of power from one President to another. It formally gives the “power of the people” to the person who has been chosen to lead the United States. … The ceremony includes the swearing-in of the President as well as the presidential address to the nation.
Who was the president of the United States in 1861? A little known history fact according to America’sLibrary.gov is that in 1861 if you were from a Northern state, you answered Abraham Lincoln. If you were from a Southern state, you may have answered Jefferson Davis. On November 6, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected president, not of the United States of America but of the Confederate States of America. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to the Union’s Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, marking the beginning of the end of the grinding four-year-long American Civil War.
At the conclusion of this country’s Civil War there was a peaceful transfer of power. The soldiers of the Confederacy were allowed to turn in their rifles and return home. They were given good because many of them were hungry. Smithsonianmag.com referred to the end of the Civil War as “The Gentlemen’s Agreement”. Read here. Six hundred thousand men perished in this conflict, but it basically ended with a handshake. It was at its conclusion a peaceful transfer of power.
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president, served in office from 1913 to 1921 and led America through World War I (1914-1918). After World War I there was a peaceful transfer of power. FDR, the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945, served during World War II (1939 – 1945). After World War II there was a peaceful transfer of power. We had two Presidents during the Korean War. Harry Truman was the president when the conflict began, but Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president when the conflict ended. Even though this country was involved in war in Asia, we still peacefully transferred power from one President to the next.
Fast forward to this century and we have had three Presidents during this country’s conflict in the Middle East. It began under George W. Bush, persisted under Barack Obama, and continues under Donald J. Trump. Are you starting to see a theme here?
This country, regardless of its flaws and shortcomings, has had one contiguous norm that has up until now been indestructible. We have always respected the will of the American people to choose new leadership during our most dire events. In comes Trump.
I have heard the Bill Mahers of the Left pontificate that Donald Trump will refuse to leave the White House if he loses. There are a myriad of YouTube programs that have sounded the alarm that Donald Trump is going to declare Martial Law or suspend the election if the polls are not in his favor.
Truthfully this was said of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama at the end of their second terms. And just as I thought in the past I thought now. This is hyperbole. The mechanisms of government would never allow one man to destroy the very foundation of our system of government. Even if someone attempted something so brazen, the legislative and judicial branches of our government are there to prevent such a coup. After all our system is based on three co-equal branches of government.
Then I remembered the two appointments Trump made to the Supreme Court along with all the Federal judges. Then I watched the Republicans in the Senate refuse to hear witnesses and review evidence that would have proved Trump’s irrefutable guilt in his impeachment trial. Now we are watching Donald Trump continue to flout the law and abuse his power (Article 1 of his impeachment charges) while he continues to illegally fire people who lawfully obeyed Congressional Subpoenas to testify before the House.
So the question that we need to ask ourselves is what if? What if Donald Trump refuses to leave the White House? What if after his refusal the Republicans in Congress refuse to make Trump leave? What if Trump decides to remain in the White House and the Democrats in Congress sue all the way up to the Supreme Court? And what if the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favor? The most important failure that aided Trump’s ascendancy into the presidency was our failure of imagination. So I ask again. What if?