Source: The Atlantic
A peaceful transfer of power is necessary for American democracy to survive.
By Barbara McQuade; Former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan
If Donald Trump is defeated in November 2020, his presidency will end on January 20, 2021. If he is reelected, then, barring other circumstances such as removal from office, his administration will terminate on the same day in 2025. In either of these scenarios, Trump would cease to be president immediately upon the expiration of his term. But what if he won’t leave the White House?
The American Constitution spells out how the transfer of power is supposed to work. Article II provides that the president “shall hold his office for the term of four years.” The Twentieth Amendment says that the president’s and vice president’s terms “shall end at noon on the 20th day of January … and the terms of their successors shall then begin.” Of course, a president may be reelected to a second four-year term, but under the Twenty-Second Amendment, “no person shall be elected to the office of president more than twice.”
For nearly 250 years, presidents have respected the law. Even when electoral defeat has been unexpected and ignominious, presidents have passed the baton without acrimony. In a sense, perhaps this is the central achievement of the American system: to have transferred power peacefully from one leader to the next, without heredity to guide the way.