From The Washington Post:
The Biden campaign has said that should [you know who] refuse to leave on Jan. 20, “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House” . . .
But weren’t the Founders obsessed with the encroaching nature of tyranny [e.g. presidents who won’t go away]? Didn’t they worry constantly about a president having too much power?
Most of them did, yes, though not all. During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Alexander Hamilton floated the idea of presidents serving for life, but when put to a vote, the proposal failed 4-6.
The power that scared many founders the most was that of commander-in-chief.
Though not necessarily tied to an election loss, ”there was a lot of discussion of the possibility that a president with control of the Army might refuse to relinquish power,” said Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford . . .
At the Virginia ratifying convention, Patrick Henry said, “If your American chief be a man of ambition and abilities, how easy is it for him to render himself absolute! The army is in his hands, and if he be a man of address, it will be attached to him; and it will be the subject of long meditation with him to seize the first auspicious moment to accomplish his design.”
Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the preamble to the Constitution, warned that if a president was limited to one term, he might “be unwilling to quit his exaltation … he will be in possession of the sword, a civil war will ensue, and the commander of the victorious army on which ever side, will be the despot of America.”
Perhaps most ominously, one prominent Pennsylvanian identifying himself only as “An Old Whig,” wrote about this in Anti-Federalist No. 70, and is worth quoting at length:
“Let us suppose this man to be a favorite with his army, and that they are unwilling to part with their beloved commander in chief … and we have only to suppose one thing more, that this man is without the virtue, the moderation and love of liberty which possessed the mind of our late general [Washington] – and this country will be involved at once in war and tyranny.
… We may also suppose, without trespassing upon the bounds of probability, that this man may not have the means of supporting, in private life, the dignity of his former station; that like Caesar, he may be at once ambitious and poor, and deeply involved in debt. Such a man would die a thousand deaths rather than sink from the heights of splendor and power, into obscurity and wretchedness.”
Some Founders who supported the Constitution still predicted that it wouldn’t stop a president from seizing power.
“The first man put at the helm will be a good one,” Benjamin Franklin said, referring to Washington. “Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards. The executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy.”
So why didn’t the founders plan for this particular scenario, of a president simply denying that he had lost an election? Because they couldn’t even fathom it, [according to Jeffrey Engel, the director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University].
“They couldn’t fathom two things: a person who had become president who was so utterly lacking in classical virtue that they would deign or dare to put their own interests above the unity of the country. And the second thing is, I think they couldn’t fathom how any president who would so vividly display disdain for the unity of the country, and mock and undermine the legitimacy of American democracy, why that person [wouldn’t have] already been impeached and removed from office.”
But the Founders never imagined the Republican Party.
Anyway, it’s much more likely our president will have vacated the White House long before January 20th. He now spends most of his time watching TV, all alone, sulking. Next stop, Xanadu.