On Thursday, January 7th, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged an end to his presidency the day after violence broke out on Capitol Hill. However, since his defeat on Election Day, this has not been the case, and Trump has hinted at refusing to concede or to peacefully transfer power, something that is crucial in a democratic society. On the same day, in a televised speech from the White House, Trump continued to suggest the election was stolen from him and his supporters, encouraging them to walk to Capitol Hill where Congress was meeting to vote on the electoral college challenge of the 2020 Election.
The events that occurred come two weeks before Inauguration Day, which leading up to this point, the presidential elect, Joe Biden, has been preparing for his transition into office. A peaceful transfer of power is the transition period when a new leader prepares to take office while the existing leader concedes power and prepares to leave. In a democratic society, this is typically the accepted norm.
The events that occurred on January 6th on Capitol Hill illustrate the absence of a peaceful transition to power. While Trump has not condemned the violence, he has claimed he is ready to peacefully leave the oval office despite still claiming the election was rigged. His statements come after numerous political officials called on him to commit to a peaceful transition of power. Since one cornerstone of democracy is a peaceful transition of power, the recent events that have occurred, as well as Trump’s refusal for the past two months to accept Biden’s win, bring into question the integrity of U.S. democracy. With the rest of the country and world watching, understanding what a peaceful transition of power looks like is crucial for monitoring how the White House and Trump transfer power to Biden and his staff, especially on January 20th, Inauguration Day. This issue is also relevant because in the past the U.S. has condemned other countries where the transition of power arose from violent means. However, the sitting president did not condemn the violence the day of the events that took place on Capitol Hill. In fact, he incited the attacks, remaining silent throughout the day. It was not until the following day that he released a condemnation of the events that took place. Therefore, this is an issue to closely monitor and to debate the long term implications to the U.S. democratic legitimacy on both a local and global level.