In a new Op-Ed for “The Daily Beast” author James Robenalt argues if Trump loses, it’s not good enough for him to peacefully hand over power by traditional means in January of 2021.
Instead, Robennalt calls for a scenario in which Trump must “resign immediately” and make Biden President.
If and when Donald Trump leaves office, whether now or the day after the election, it should be by resignation. We cannot and should not wait until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, for him to vacate the White House. His departure has become a matter of national emergency, national safety, and now national security.
The polls show Trump losing by large margins to Joe Biden if the election were held today. His nearly catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tens of thousands of unnecessary infections and deaths.
And things are getting worse following the premature reopening of states, something Trump insisted upon. He wears no face coverings, despite the recommendations of his own task force. He holds mass rallies in violation of local health regulations and recommendations.
The news that he may have failed to take note of intelligence reports that suggested that Vladimir Putin had offered bounties for the deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan makes him a national security risk.
If Trump does not resign before the election in November, there is little question he should resign the next day if he loses, especially if the election is not close, and turn the reins of power over to the president-elect. A landslide win by Biden will mean that the pandemic is not under control and probably that the economy remains in turmoil or perhaps ruins.
This makes Trump’s immediate removal from office all the more compelling because experts are warning that COVID-19 may build into another wave just as the regular flu season kicks into high gear starting in November. The health consequences could be catastrophic without a steady and clear national response.
Trump’s resignation and turning power over to the new president-elect may be the only way to keep the situation from spiraling.
How could this happen? Putting aside for the moment whether Trump would actually do this, there is—sort of—precedent for such behavior. While Richard Nixon is the only president to resign his office, there is another president who considered the possibility of immediate resignation and the transferral of power within days of the election to a new president-elect from the opposing party.
That president also faced a world of high uncertainty and danger. He believed it was his duty to step down if he didn’t win, as soon as the election result was known.
Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president, is not held in high regard these days. Princeton University, where he taught government and was president from 1902 to 1910, has decided to remove his name from university institutes and programs. “Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time,” Christopher Eisgruber, current president of Princeton, said in a statement released last week. President Trump tweeted that the move was “incredibly stupid.”
But it was not a crisis over racism that caused Woodrow Wilson to type out his resignation letter in 1916; it was a world war.
By the fall of 1916, Wilson had kept the United States out of the European conflict for over two years. Despite his attempts to mediate an end to the war, the belligerent powers remained in a deadly stalemate. The battle for Verdun in France, horrific by any historical measure, started in the spring of 1916 and would continue, with unrelenting bombardments, until December. The Germans intended to “bleed the French white.”
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