With each day, each poll, and a general feeling of malaise settling over the country as a result of the many missteps made by Donald Trump during the course of his time in office, it becomes clearer that a majority of Americans seem to think the nation is on the wrong track and dramatic change needs to be made.
With that being stipulated, let’s set up a hypothetical and answer a question that seems to linger in the air when the subject of the election comes up.
The election is held and Joe Biden wins. Maybe Biden wins narrowly or maybe it’s a landslide. But he wins, fair and square, and is set to become the 46th President of the United States. He’s about to be inaugurated, but Trump doesn’t show up for the symbolic transfer of power. Instead, he’s holed up in the Oval Office, tweeting out conspiracy theories about how he was cheated and is still head of state.
What happens then?
Believe it or not, all of this was thought through years ago and there’s a system in place to make sure the orderly transfer of the presidency takes place no matter what the incumbent does.
Writing in Slate recently, Fred Kaplan takes us to the day of Biden’s inauguration and the event which take place regardless of what Trump decides to do:
“On the dot of noon, the nuclear codes, which currently allow Trump to order and authenticate a nuclear attack, expire.
“The entire U.S. military establishment will pivot away from ex-President Trump and salute President Biden.
“If Trump orders the military to do anything, they will refuse his order. If any officers obey his order—say, to circle the White House to keep him in power—they would certainly be tried and convicted on charges of mutiny and sedition, and they would know this before taking the leap.”
The Secret Service would also stop providing Trump with blanket security, refusing to obey his orders as a warrant is drawn up by the new attorney general for Trump’s arrest.
Additionally, the Oval Office — if still occupied by Donald Trump — would be cut off from the outside world. All avenues of communication would be disabled and there would be no way for the resisting president to give any orders. Further resistance would be met with shows of force, Kaplan adds, including tanks being positioned outside the White House as an added incentive for the reluctant Trump to surrender.
In other words, Trump has no choice but to vacate the White House if and when he loses. He can try to claim election fraud and demand he be allowed to remain in office, but his whining will come to naught. If he continues to refuse, he would be taken by force. And as tough as Trump pretends he is, he’s no match for the full force of the U.S. government.
The greater threat is that Trump and his minions will try to suppress the vote or get a foreign power to help him win the way Russia did four years ago. But if he loses, he’d best start packing his bags, because he’s being evicted one way or another.