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  • Two weeks after the 2008 election, George W. Bush's family

  • gave Barack Obama's family a tour of their new home, the White House.

  • It was part of a long American tradition,

  • of the outgoing president's family meeting with the incoming family,

  • just as the Clintons had done for the Bushes eight years before,

  • and the Bushes had done for the Clintons eight years before that.

  • It's a symbolic start to the beginning of the presidential transition,

  • where the current president meets with the president-elect,

  • and, importantly, helps the new administration into their new positions,

  • ensuring a smooth transfer of power.

  • "President Trump refuses to concede."

  • "Refusing to begin the transition process."

  • "Blocking President-elect Joe Biden from receiving critical Covid-19 data."

  • The presidential transition usually starts right after Election Day, in November,

  • and it ends when the new president is inaugurated, in late January.

  • But this year, President Trump didn't allow it to start until three weeks after the election.

  • So... does that actually matter?

  • And why does America take so long to switch presidents?

  • Trump is not the first outgoing president to be uncooperative.

  • In 1932, President Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a landslide.

  • It was the middle of the Great Depression,

  • and Roosevelt had campaigned on his "New Deal" ideas.

  • But Hoover didn't like those ideas.

  • And he used the transition period to keep FDR from getting started on them.

  • At the time, this gap was even longer.

  • The Constitution, written in the 1700s, had set it at around four months.

  • After FDR's election, it was shortened, to the current two and a half months.

  • That's still pretty long. But the modern US, with its expansive federal government,

  • has found that time period useful.

  • The federal government is kind of like this huge, massive, big ship,

  • that takes a lot of direction to steer.

  • When the US changes presidents, thousands of federal jobs have to be changed, too.

  • And that changeover takes time.

  • Those new hires need offices, government emails,

  • and they need to get fully briefed on the ins and outs of how these departments run.

  • And, most importantly, the president needs to get caught up on national security and intelligence.

  • On January 20th at noon, one administration is going to take over,

  • and the threats that America faces are not necessarily going to respect that gap.

  • In 2000, the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was so close

  • that the winner wasn't actually decided until mid-December.

  • Which meant Bush's transition had to happen pretty rapidly.

  • Later, after the September 11th attacks, a government report said,

  • this loss of time hampered the new administration

  • in its readiness to deal with national security threats.

  • They suggested that in the future, the transition should start as soon as possible.

  • But, unlike in 2000, the delay in transition in 2020

  • wasn't because we didn't know who won the election.

  • "NBC News now projects..."

  • "CBS News projects..."

  • "CNN projects Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected."

  • When the media declares a winner on election night, it feels like a big moment.

  • But it doesn't actually carry any formal weight. It's a projection.

  • The election isn't officially over until each state certifies their results,

  • and the Electoral College votes, in mid-December.

  • But usually, by that point both presidential candidates

  • have already acknowledged what the outcome will be.

  • The loser usually concedes, and that sets off this presidential transition process

  • where the outgoing administration helps to usher in the incoming administration.

  • In 2020, we found out what happens when the outcome is widely agreed upon,

  • but the loser doesn't concede.

  • Before the transition can start, an office of the federal government

  • has to give the go-ahead.

  • The problem is, that relies on everyone agreeing who the president-elect is.

  • Eventually, after several key states certified their results,

  • Trump didn't concede, but he did allow the transition to begin.

  • Without actually referring to Biden as the president-elect.

  • "Nearly three weeks after the election...

  • "The Trump administration backed down."

  • "President-elect Biden getting daily intelligence briefings..."

  • "...on everything from vaccine distribution, testing, and PPE supply chains."

  • This gap between presidents feels long.

  • But it's necessary to keep America's government running.

  • And for the incoming Biden administration, it's going to be a lot shorter.

  • And it shows that our tradition of a smooth transfer of power is just that — a tradition.

  • Not a rule.

Two weeks after the 2008 election, George W. Bush's family

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B1 transition president election administration president elect elect

Why the US waits so long to swear in the new president

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/04
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