US Presidential elections go on for far too long.
The process might be an impactful way for individual candidates to raise money, and it also gives news outlets something to talk about when they’ve run out of ideas, but it is bad for democracy.
A six month primary period followed by a six month general election campaign provides more than enough time for citizens to make an informed choice, especially in the age of social media, online news and 24/7 coverage of everything. It is in fact far more time than is allotted in most democracies around the world.
More importantly, the gap between a Presidential election and the inauguration of the new president, must be decreased.
There is an existing precedent for this in US history. Prior to 1933 the new president assumed office in April. With the passage of the 20th amendment to the Constitution, April was swapped for late January.
A vast country like the United States had to have a slow moving political process. It could take weeks from news in Washington to reach the western frontier in the epoch prior to rail travel.
But in the internet era, this no longer applies. Only the drawbacks of such a lengthy gap still hold true.
A smooth and quick transition is the sign of a healthy democracy. Constitutionally, America’s transition is too slow for the modern age, and practically, it leaves the outgoing lame-duck administration plenty of time to sabotage the incoming administration should this be their modus operandi.
It’s not even January and Barack Obama has done more to try and embarrass, stifle and make difficult, the Presidency of his successor, than any outgoing US leader in recent memory.
Here are just some of the things he has done:
–Wave any limitations of delivery of weapons to terrorists in Syria.
This directly contradicts Donald Trump’s stated desire to work with Russia against the common terrorist enemy. Obama wants to destroy Assad, Trump wants to eliminate radical Islamic terrorists.
— Supporting a UN resolution aiming to create a privately funded inquiry into war crimes in Syria.
The sponsors of such an investigation, all of whom are anti-Russia and anti-Assad, will likely reach a conclusion they have already decided upon. This is designed to weaken Donald Trump’s appeal for US-Russian cooperation amongst Americans traditional European and Arab ‘allies’.
–Continuing to blame Russia for hacking an election.
Russia never hacked the election. Yet Obama continues with threats to punish Russia over something that all of the experts say Russia did not do. Obama is yet again emboldening elements of the US Deep State who already salivate at the idea of derailing Trump’s ‘mission reconciliation’.
— Abstaining from the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement building on the occupied territories.
Here, Obama is showing that he is using the Israel-Palestine conflict as a domestic political football. He’s well aware that Trump wants to bring both sides to the table and that instinctively Trump is pro-Israel, though in the way he actually handles the situation, I believe he might surprise many on both sides. So instead of allowing Trump to approach the matter with a clean slate, he has muddied the waters.
This churlish approach to democracy is disgraceful. Obama has shown his true colours and they aren’t kind or gentlemanly.
The only way such things can be prevented in future election cycles is to do the following: Hold the US Presidential election on 8th December rather than 8th November, and swear in the new President on the 2nd January.
It will mean some people will have to work a bit over Christmas, but frankly people prepared to work for the President of the United States have more important things to do than deck the halls.
This ought to be something Trump considers. He has personally been the victim of Obama’s vendetta, and with a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress and with the Republicans controlling a majority of state governments, he has the opportunity to rectify this antiquated aspect of American democracy.