For my entire adult life—since 1977—I have been a lawyer, as are my wife, daughter, son-in-law, brothers, a niece and nephew, and countless cousins. My father who was a judge ingrained in me a respect for the law and he was influenced by his father who came to the U.S. from Ireland in 1893. Ireland suffered 700 years of British oppression without the rule of law in their own country.
You may not have been taught American history in grade school by a nun like Sister Julianne (handling the recent presidential debate would’ve been light duty for her, believe me), but from her and others we all learned to hold sacred the idea that formed the foundation of our nation—that America is governed by laws not the whims of individuals. That it is why we rejected the rule of English kings and opted for self-rule as outlined in our Constitution.
Written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789, our Constitution establishes the U.S. as the longest surviving democracy. At its core, our Constitution delineates a peaceful transition of power. For 231 years power has been transferred without confrontation from one Congress to the next, from one Senate to the next, from one President to the next and from one party to another.
But here we are in 2020 and we should be deeply troubled by the words and actions of our current President who first refuses, then dances around, a commitment to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election. He sows doubt and chaos in order to try to stay in power. Heads he wins, tails you lose. Unless he wins, “it’s a rigged election.” These are the words of a man who has no respect for our democracy, values, and rules of law.
The President’s authoritarian view of our election and democracy is way beyond wrong and dangerous. His salute in that widely viewed debate to the violent extremist group, the Proud Boys, telling them to “stand by” makes it even worse. Instead of condemning violent extremist groups, the President marshals them.
Our vote has not been bestowed and will not be taken away by an autocrat. It has been paid for with the blood of Americans from Lexington to Concord, to Gettysburg, with John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and with the sacrifices of Suffragettes. Americans, including myself, may not go to sleep with the Constitution under their pillow, but our Founding Fathers with all their faults did indeed put us on the right track. Our democracy evolved and we know now what is at stake. There will be a peaceful transition because we will vote!
There is only one way forward for our country and that is this: the politicians who commit or enable this deplorable assault on American democracy need to be voted out and voted out in a landslide. Let’s do it!