Will a 2017 ‘peaceful transfer’ be possible?
illary Clinton should be in jail. Donald Trump threatens America’s very existence. These are not fringe opinions. They are widespread views across America’s bitter political divide.
That means that on November 9, the morning after Election Day, millions of Americans will awaken to the realisation that someone they loathe will be the 45th US president.
The dynamics of the race leave many Republicans and Democrats worried that many voters will be unwilling to accept the outcome.
That could weaken the new president from the very first day in office. Intense, sustained opposition diminishes a president’s political capital and emboldens opposition lawmakers who have to answer to their own supporters.
“Politics has never been genteel... but generally both parties and their leaders have recognised the legitimacy of the process, and that seems to be fraying,” said Republican Steve Schmidt, top strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
The GOP mood was on display at their national convention, where delegates in Cleveland erupted daily into chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” - a reference to Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Clinton was investigated, but not charged.
Clinton’s campaign answered with fundraising pitches, telling would-be donors: “We have to stop him.”
Each candidate has declared the other unqualified for the presidency. Trump talks of “crooked Hillary” and says she’s a “puppet” of special interests. Clinton calls Trump “unfit” for the Oval Office.
The next president could also run into trouble from an unlikely source - the winning party.
Trump has yet to secure the endorsement of Ted Cruz, while Clinton has earned the support of Bernie Sanders but many of his backers aren’t following along.
Schmidt said the campaign’s tension makes it much harder, but also more important for the loser to concede graciously. They said that’s the first step in the “peaceful transfer of power” seen on Inauguration Day.
“The first person to call Barack Obama ‘Mr President-elect wasn’t staff’,” recalled Schmidt. “It was Senator McCain.” THURSDAY JULY 28, 2016