No president in U.S. history has ever refused to accept the peaceful transfer of power (or term limits) after an election. We have no democracy if the will of the people is ignored. No president or political party has had so little respect for elections, for the rule of law and for the sovereignty of the people. Banana republics allow leaders to accept only election results in their favor and to keep power through the raw exercise of brute force.

President Trump, so often driven by his insatiable need to satisfy his own desires, cannot make a pledge to peacefully transfer power if he loses because he apparently has no conception that he is a temporary occupant of the White House bound to follow the law.

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster —” Trump began when asked during a White House press briefing if he would ensure a peaceful transition.
“I understand that, but people are rioting; do you commit to making sure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power?” the reporter pressed, appearing to refer to incidents of violence that have broken out during some protests.
“Get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful, there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation,” Trump said. “The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

Get rid of ballots. He will decide later if he will leave office or engage in a lawless coup. Ho hum, say the Republicans. Many issued statements supporting a peaceful transition of power, but none condemned Trump by name or suggested his remarks were disqualifying. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) issued perhaps the strongest statement:

Maybe your party should impeach and remove such a character or at least withdraw support for another term rather than give him another Supreme Court appointment, Sen. Romney? The first debate question next week to Trump should be why his remark and disdain for elections are not disqualifying.

We have an unprecedented collapse of justice in this country. At the top, Trump seems to believe he is some sort of absolute monarch for whom the law doesn’t apply. This stands in stark contrast to the situation in Kentucky, where state Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Wednesday denied a Black family any semblance of justice for their slain daughter. Police officers who killed the woman, Breonna Taylor, will not be charged for her death resulting from a botched no-knock raid.

The Post reports: “A Kentucky grand jury determined Wednesday that two officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor were justified in firing their weapons into her apartment, while another was charged with recklessly firing rounds into a neighboring unit, an outcome that has inflamed racial protests nationwide.” No one is to be held accountable for her killing. The furious and entirely justified reaction followed: “The announcement drew criticism from Taylor’s family, their attorney, and several celebrities and activists, who said that Cameron and the jury had disregarded the life of an innocent Black woman," The Post reports. "They said the decision left them again questioning the fairness of the U.S. justice system. Benjamin Crump, a family attorney, said the charges against [former officer Brett] Hankison included ‘NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor.’”

The wanton disregard for the lives of helpless citizens, for the fair application of the law and for our democracy is what we would expect in dictatorships around the world where might makes right. Trump and his Republican enablers, heralded by his right-wing propagandists, have descended into thuggery, unwilling to conform their actions to the dictates of the law or to respect the rights of ordinary Americans.

In a sane world, GOP senators would have convicted Trump of abuse of power and removed him from office earlier this year — or at least refused to support his reelection. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) laughably thought he learned his lesson after he was given a free pass on Ukraine. Anyone whose judgment is so rotten has no business serving in any office. Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), David Perdue (Ga.) and all the other Republicans on the ballot have not demonstrated their fidelity to the Constitution. We need to boot out all Republicans who let him remain in office, continually refused to condemn his lawlessness and indeed seek to reward him with another Supreme Court power grab.

Our basic democracy will not sustain this abuse of power and denial of equal justice. If we are to recover a law-based democracy, voters must run Trump and his party members out of office. Only after this outrageous defiler of democracy and his band of irresponsible supplicants in Congress are banished can we undertake the slew of reforms needed to straighten out our a criminal justice system rife with racism and reinvigorate our democracy. (As to the latter, let’s start with expanding the House of Representatives, which will re-weight the electoral college toward more populous states.)

Once we get rid of a president who wants to ignore ballots, we can secure easy access to voting for all Americans, rein in a overweening executive branch and put constraints on a Supreme Court that looks more and more like an extension of right-wing political muscle. A government where the center of gravity resides in Congress — it is Article I, after all — can restore some measure of normal democratic rule. But first and foremost, we cannot tolerate a president who is keeping his options open for what would amount to a coup. Indeed, if the Senate can jam through hearings on a Supreme Court justice in a couple of weeks, surely the House can ram through articles of impeachment. Let the Senate chew on that.

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