Trump refuses to concede damaging American democracy

I served under seven different presidents - Nixon/Ford, Carter, Reagan, H. W. Bush, Clinton and W. Bush. My job was as an economist at a U.S. Department of Labor policy research office. I am familiar with presidential transitions. They are a hallmark of our democratic republic. Civil servants at my level became experts in the programs that we were assigned to work on. In my case these included federal/state unemployment insurance benefits, employment service programs, Job Corps, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Social Security and Welfare programs. During a presidential transition our job was to brief the incoming new political appointees who would now take over managing the policies and programs at the U.S. Department of Labor. We would prepare briefing papers on ongoing and completed evaluations and research studies that shed light on how well or not well the programs were meeting their objectives. This was crucial information for the new political appointees as they would be charged with implementing the new President's policy agenda. Good faith and honest straightforward discussion between those of us in the civil service and the new political appointees was crucial to the success or lack thereof to the new administration. And it was especially important when the transition involved a transfer in the Presidency from one of the political parties to the other, because that was when abrupt policy changes were most likely to take place.

The tradition that the loser of the presidential election graciously accept defeat at the polls and concede the election and offer whatever help he and his team could offer the incoming administration was crucial to a successful transition. It would help the new administration get a good start in its plan for governing. And when I was part of the process at the U.S. Department of Labor I can report that while there were some bumps in the road, especially in the Carter to Reagan transition at the Labor Department, the transitions that I was a part of went quite smoothly. They were a beacon of the strength of our democratic form of government.

But now Trump in his juvenile refusal to concede a loss in a legitimate election and to infer and announce to the world that the election was fraudulent without a shred of evidence is doing what may be irreparable harm to America's standing as a beacon of democracy and to the management of crucial programs designed to help the American people.

Trump, during his presidency has done some outrageous things, but this refusal to accept an election defeat is probably the most outrageous of them all. But given what we know of the man, it was predictable.

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