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Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:05 AM

The Founders didn't prepare for a president who refuses to step down, historians say

President Donald Trump continued Friday to deny the results of the election, pressuring state officials in Michigan and Georgia to overturn the will of voters, and increasing fears that he might refuse to cede power to President-elect Joe Biden.

But those looking to the nation's Founders, or the Constitution they framed, for answers to such a crisis will come up empty-handed. There is nothing in the Constitution about what to do if a president refuses to step down when his term expires, according to three historians and a constitutional law professor.

"No, the Framers did not envisage a president refusing to step down or discuss what should be done in such a situation," said Yale historian Sean Wilentz. "There's obviously nothing in the Constitution about it."

"This is a contingency that no one would have actively contemplated until this fall," said historian Jack Rakove, a professor emeritus at Stanford University.

Snip

https://www.thehour.com/news/article/The-Founders-didn-t-prepare-for-a-president-who-15744686.php#item-85307-tbla-1

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Reply The Founders didn't prepare for a president who refuses to step down, historians say (Original post)
LiberalArkie Saturday OP
Blues Heron Saturday #1
Chainfire Saturday #7
Goodheart Saturday #2
treestar Saturday #3
BootinUp Saturday #4
Laelth Saturday #5
frazzled Saturday #6
Klaralven Saturday #8
packman Saturday #9
crickets Saturday #13
Vogon_Glory Saturday #10
Azathoth Saturday #11
unblock Saturday #12
Azathoth Saturday #14
unblock Saturday #15
Azathoth Saturday #16
unblock Saturday #18
Poiuyt Saturday #17
Gothmog Saturday #19
dalton99a Saturday #20
AnyFunctioningAdult Saturday #21
Gothmog Saturday #22

Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:09 AM

1. We won't have that situation because he won't be prez anymore- just a trespasser

That's the beauty of the system.

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Response to Blues Heron (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:32 AM

7. The secret service would be forced to escort the new first family into the White House

and give the old family the bum's rush.

It won't happen. Trump will not heap more humiliation upon himself.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:09 AM

2. When we think "traitor" we think "Benedict Arnold"

And from now onward when we think "sore loser" we think "donald trump".

What a way to go down in the history books.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:10 AM

3. There was "honor" in those days

and it continued well up into the 21st century.

They envisioned a bad man having the office, but not the partisanship where he belonged to a party holding the Senate.

I think they believed even the R. Senate would have removed him from office.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:15 AM

4. Bill Maher's been saying it for quite some time. nt

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:21 AM

5. I don't know about "this fall."

Plenty of us on DU were worried that W. would not relinquish power in 2009.



-Laelth

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:24 AM

6. When a Leader Just Won't Go

Wisdom from Shakespeare to Dickens to ‘Seinfeld’ on President Trump’s long non-goodbye.

In Nancy Mitford’s comic 1960 novel “Don’t Tell Alfred,” the wife of the new British ambassador to Paris arrives at the embassy to find that she has a vexing problem: Her predecessor has refused to move out. Indeed, Pauline Leone, the wife of the previous ambassador, is so unhinged by the prospect of a status-free future that she has set up her own rival court, grandly receiving a stream of visitors as if for all the world she were still Madame L’Ambassadrice, the social arbiter of Paris. ...

... Is Trump like King Lear, raging naked on the heath and desperately hanging on to the increasingly diminished trappings of power even as they are stripped from him? Or is he more like Bartleby the Scrivener, the inscrutable model of passive resistance who one day declines to do any more work or indeed leave the building, declaring: “I would prefer not to?”

Is he like Nellie, the character in “The Office” who installs herself at the desk of the regional manager when he is out of town and unilaterally appoints herself boss? Or how about George from “Seinfeld,” who quits one of his many jobs in a huff, unsuccessfully tries to get it back, and reports to work anyway, as if nothing had happened?

Timothy Naftali, a history professor at New York University, said that one way to view Mr. Trump would be as a version of Miss Havisham, the jilted bride from “Great Expectations” who lives forever in the past, never taking off her tattered wedding gown even as her house decays around her.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/15/us/politics/trump-concession-books-literature-.html?searchResultPosition=1

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:34 AM

8. The Founders had spent over a decade dealing with a head of state who refused to relinquish power

It probably didn't occur to them to have to spell out what to do.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:40 AM

9. Our Founding fathers vision of leadership - particularly the presidency

was based on their reading and which inspired them of a Roman leader who did his job and then returned to his previous life. This ideal leader would arise do his duty and then return to his farm. George Washington, for example embodied all these virtues. Unfortunately (even thou they talk about term limits) our so called "leaders" do not serve and then leave, but stay around forever.



Cincinnatus was a conservative opponent of the rights of the plebeians (the common citizens) who fell into poverty because of his son's violent opposition to their desire for a written code of equitably enforced laws. Despite his old age, he worked his own small farm until an invasion prompted his fellow citizens to call for his leadership. He came from his plough to assume complete control over the state but, upon achieving a swift victory, relinquished his power and its perquisites and returned to his farm. His success and immediate resignation of his near-absolute authority with the end of this crisis (traditionally dated to 458 BC) has often been cited as an example of outstanding leadership, service to the greater good, civic virtue, humility, and modesty. As a result, he has inspired a number of organizations and other entities, some named in his honor. In the United States, parallels are drawn between Cincinnatus and national hero George Washington, and, as such, the Society of the Cincinnati, the town of Cincinnatus, New York, and (indirectly) the city of Cincinnati, Ohio are named after him.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Quinctius_Cincinnatus

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Response to packman (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:57 AM

13. I learn so much here!

Thanks for the quick history lesson, packman. After reading about Cincinnatus, it's a bit of a thump to come back down to earth and realize we're stuck with trump for the moment, but that was a fun trip down history lane. Cool!

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:41 AM

10. I believe that the Founding Fathers not only assumed honor

would compel most losers to vacate the office and premises, but also assumed that dueling pistols would remain as an additional remedy. I can readily imagine someone like Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr facing off against the Trumpster.

While I’m glad that dueling has been outlawed, I can’t help but wonder how the Donald would have fared against some of the more tetchy 18th century gents on a field of honor.





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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:43 AM

11. The Founders assumed that if it ever reached this point, the country would be over

The entire intent of the Constitution was to establish a system that would prevent a deranged would-be tyrant from seizing and centralizing power. The GOP have systematically conspired to circumvent that intent.

The Founders never discussed having to frog-march a president out of the White House because once the country has reached that point, the social compact has already been broken and the Constitution has failed. This, quite literally, is the point where the Founders would point to the natural "Right of Revolution" they themselves exercised.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 10:48 AM

12. This is kinda silly. The constitution tells us exactly when power shifts to the new president

It tells us that the former president has no power. It tells us that it's the new president who is commander-in-chief and who sign bills into law, etc.

Donnie "refusing to relinquish power" isn't applicable here because the constitution tells us that it's not his power to relinquish or not.

There's no golden scepter that the president passes to the new president that he could hold on to past January 20 at noon. His power simply vanishes at that moment.

So the constitution does contemplate this and it prevents it from happening by denying any blocking action or inaction by the outgoing president. There's nothing he can do to stop it.


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Response to unblock (Reply #12)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 11:02 AM

14. Yeah, it doesn't quite work that way in practice

The Constitution, like every other organizing piece of human society, is a social compact. It can be broken simply by enough people saying "I don't like it." No amendments, no repeal, just enough Americans deciding "Nah."

Trump is declaring that the election was fraudulent and Biden was not elected. Right now, the entire executive branch is (officially) standing by that position, as is the United States Senate leadership.

If they all continue to hold together and stick to that position on January 20, then theoretical notions about the Constitution making his power "vanish" are irrelevant because the social compact that gives validity and authority to the Constitution will be gone. Trump will have the power and Joe Biden won't, and the only recourse will be to some level of revolution/civil war.

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Response to Azathoth (Reply #14)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 11:11 AM

15. But it's silly to say the constitution doesn't contemplate the constitution being ignored

Fine, well, the constitution also doesn't contemplate one senator ruling by decree? The constitution also doesn't contemplate one general declaring himself dictator?

Sure it does. The constitution spells out who has what powers, who doesn't, and when it transfers.

Yes, the constitution can be ignored by corrupt people. But the constitution tells us the military should take its orders from the new president, not the old president.

Within the constitution, this is not a problem. It's only a problem outside the constitution. So it's silly to look back inside the constitution to solve a problem outside the constitution. If the constitution has a solution for people just ignoring its provisions, they would just ignore that solution as well. That's what's silly about looking to the constitution for a solution to people ignoring the constitution.



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Response to unblock (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 11:35 AM

16. "Within the constitution, this is not a problem." True

This is all obviously extra-constitutional, not an internal loophole, so as a logical matter it's silly to put a clause in the Constitution to handle situations where people decide to ignore the Constitution. That's the position the Founders would take.

But it's always more complicated. Dictators who break social compacts almost always claim their actions are intended to uphold the compact. Trump is claiming Biden's votes are illegal and unconstitutional, and the liberal courts and media are covering it up. So even though he's attempting to subvert the Constitution, his ability to do so will come down to everyone's understanding of the facts of the situation and the plain meaning of the words *in* the Constitution. So really, at the end of the day, a dictatorial movement could claim to be keeping full faith with the Constitution while completely shattering it in practice.

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Response to Azathoth (Reply #16)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 11:59 AM

18. right. the founders' remedy was to just ignore the tyrant.

they contemplated the military refusing to take orders from a crybaby ex-president.
they contemplated congress not including a crybaby ex-president in negotiation of new bills.

donnie can whine 'til the cows come home, it doesn't matter.
it only really becomes a problem when *other people* also ignore the constitution.
if congress and the military start treating donnie as president after noon on january 20, that's when we have a real problem.

the founders' remedy for that was revolution.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 11:55 AM

17. The Founders never envisioned this problem because they thought the Electoral College would

elect men of high quality.

In Federalist 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the Electoral College would provide "a moral certainty, that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications."

How well did that work out?

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 01:14 PM

19. The system was not set up to deal with trump and we need to be viligent

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 01:18 PM

20. They never contemplated the possibility that criminals would seize three branches of our government.

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Response to LiberalArkie (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 01:44 PM

21. They did though.

The original text as well as the 20th Amendment which changed the date were both quite clear. "The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January." No ceremony or action is required for the outgoing president no longer to be president.

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