September 19, 2019

Election 2016: The Transfer of Power

images-1By Michael Wrede

In 1789, the United States created a Constitution that defined our political process for generations to come. The Constitution was designed to distribute power so that no one person or institution would have more than another. The Founding Fathers knew that clean transfers of power were important to keeping our system in balance and prevent dictatorships and anarchy. The upholding of that principle is immensely important with regard to the election of the most powerful leader in our government: the President. For the past 200 years, we have had peaceful transfers of power. The American people have elected every single president, and no one has ever assumed the presidency who was not elected by the Electoral College. Candidates have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College. While other countries struggle with frequent violent changes of power and coups, the United States has had the benefit of a stable presidency for the entirety of our existence.

Now, welcome to 2016, the year of political upheaval and Donald Trump. Donald Trump has made claims that this election will be rigged and that he will not accept the result. First, I must address the question of election fraud. The fact is that election fraud does not exist in this country. Most states use paper ballots and the DRE (Direct Recording Electronic Systems). Paper ballots are extremely reliable and easy to count. DRE’s are different, but they have independent hard drives that make manipulating votes nearly impossible. Statistics show that voting fraud happens infrequently, and cases that do appear are usually cases of mistaken names. Second, even if Mr. Trump thinks that the election is rigged and he loses, he should take a lesson from Al Gore sixteen years ago. When Al Gore won the popular vote and the state of Florida came down to a few thousand votes, he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore) to check the election results. However, he dropped his case because Al Gore respected the political process and the intent of our Constitution. If he had challenged Bush for the presidency and questioned the legitimacy of the election, he could have caused a rift in the nation that could have spurred riots and government breakdown. He took the high road and did what was best for the American people.

 

Sadly, it seems that Mr. Trump is incapable of such ethical behavior. At midnight on November 8th, we will have elected a new president. If Mr. Trump rejects the results, we may find ourselves in a very unfamiliar place, with coups, dictators, and political peril. I know my attempts to persuade Mr. Trump to act in accordance with American tradition will be in vain, so instead I issue my plea to Trump supporters. If Mr. Trump urges you to act on what he preaches and challenge the results and the presidency, please do not. The ideals and values that Americans hold dear are more important than any one person’s bid for power.