An overly lengthy transition period can be highly destabilizing even in the U.S. — a nation that deems itself a mature democracy.
Trump is still refusing to concede the 2020 election and has not allowed the
incoming Biden Administration to begin the transition.
of leadership vacuum are by their very nature notoriously dangerous. In mature
democracies — and the United States certainly considers itself as one — this
shouldn’t be so. But it is.
that in medieval Rome, the death of the sitting Pope was usually followed by
riots and settling of scores by the city’s princely clans. Putting an end to
the chaos was an important incentive for the cardinals to elect a successor as
quickly as possible.
9/11 — and 1860!
United States itself, during the “Secession Winter” of 1860-61, after Abraham
Lincoln had been elected President — but before he could assume power — the
Southern states broke away and formed the Confederacy. They thus laid the
foundations for the U.S. civil war.
most contemporary Americans should be aware, a prolonged dispute surrounding
the 2000 election kept George W. Bush from installing his administration.
deemed to have contributed to his team missing the warning signs of the
impending September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
drumbeat of 2020
current highly radicalized U.S. political environment, the drumbeat of a “new
civil war” has been loud and clear. “Patriotic” militias — consisting of armed
right-wingers with military training — have openly talked of rebellion, calling
themselves “boogaloo boys.”
seasoned and responsible government could deal with all this. But Donald Trump
— ever irresponsible — keeps repeating baseless accusations of voter fraud and
busies himself stoking anger among his followers.
a mature and modern democracy, there would be an easy way to put an end to all
such shenanigans and the ultra-risky business they mean – both at home and
put, we no longer live in the age when carriages drawn by horses represent the
fastest mode of transportation. The time between the date of the election —
always the first Tuesday in November — and the date of the inauguration on
January 20th the following year, provides a 70-day interregnum to a new
administration. It is too long for modern times.
UK — not unwisely — it’s about clearing out the next morning. While such a
rapid transition has its own drawbacks, the Founding Fathers — having no
experience with the republican form of government — made this handover process
turned the United States’ chief executive into a person similar to a king —
endowing him with quite a lot of power. Elected for four years, in certain ways
he has a complete carte blanche to implement any policy he wants.
few limits on firing government officials at a whim — no due process needed.
exit many international agreements at his own leisure — even when that amounts
to the height of preposterousness and irresponsibility (witness Trump’s exiting
the WHO). He can also pull out troops and place them abroad pretty much as he
there is a minor risk of impeachment, for crimes and “misdemeanors” — but not
for policy decisions.
happened to “checks and balances”?>
remarkable how easily the much-vaunted system of checks and balances crumbled
under President Trump — as the legislative and judicial branches allowed him to
become an absolute monarch ruling by decree.
Trump claimed repeatedly that under Article Two of the Constitution he can do
whatever he wants. Nor does the Constitution have any real provisions for the
peaceful transition of power. All the obstruction of his successor that Trump
is engaging in is perfectly legal.
he has been voted out, he will keep his unlimited powers for eleven weeks —
plenty of time to stir trouble and egg his supporters on.
there is Vladimir Putin, a man who is always eager to insert himself craftily
into any juicy trouble spot — the exploitation of which strengthens Russia’s
hand and nefarious alliance games.
has long been bent on reversing Russia’s defeat in the Cold War — and on
restoring the dominance it lost with the collapse of the Soviet Empire.
Putin has stirred civil unrest and supported separatist movements in many
regions of the world.
done so in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia — and other former Soviet
republics, as well as in Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic.
about the United States? There, it isn’t so much about deploying off-label
military, often referred to as “little green men” (remember those soldiers
wearing no insignia who were used by Putin to annex Crimea from Ukraine in
forces that Putin’s Russia deploys in the United States are much more
sophisticated — and insidious.
looking for foreign help
the exact nature of the Trump election campaign’s cooperation with Russia has
never been fully revealed, Trump has admitted that he welcomes foreign support
Russia remains the only major country not to congratulate Joe Biden on his
and Trump are the only heads of state — with the exception of some third world
autocrats — not to accept the result of the U.S. election.
and Soviet power have long been based on waging disinformation wars. The extent
to which Russia plays this game in an ever more obtrusive and simultaneously
nefarious fashion has recently been exposed.
sense, Putin does rely on sending his “little green men” to the United States,
only that they operate in digital form — not sporting any generic military
alongside a U.S. President who only cares about himself and never really about
the nation he leads, this digital insertion of Russia’s destructiveness can
easily foment the slide toward major unrest and political violence.
you, not just over the next two months, but for the entire Biden term in the
Oval Office and beyond.
all, as Putin is fully aware, the only way in which Russia can ever be on par
with the United States is if the former succeeds in its long-term mission since
early Soviet days to pull down the latter.
Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist, the daily online
magazine on the global economy, politics and culture, which he founded and
launched in January 2000.
Richter is a frequent guest on leading radio and television programs, including
Germany’s “Meet the Press” program on ARD and ZDF’s Morning Show. While based
in the U.S., he frequently appeared on National Public Radio as well as on the
PBS Newshour and CNN.
after and thought-provoking keynote speaker at executive conferences and
retreats, he has moderated more than 150 policy events during his time in
Washington, D.C., featuring prime ministers, CEOs, Nobel laureates and heads of
articles and views have appeared in such publications as the New York Times,
Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review,
Fortune, Salon, Japan Times, Le Monde, Les Echos, Die Welt, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, Handelsblatt, Manager Magazin, Cicero, NZZ and
past ten years, he was the presenter of the Marketplace Globalist Quiz, aired
on public radio stations all across the United States as part of NPR’s Morning
Report. He also created The Globalist Quiz, a weekly feature exploring the
global agenda in an innovative fashion syndicated to newspapers around the
2002-08, he was a monthly columnist for Les Echos, the leading financial daily
in France. He was also the U.S. correspondent for Rheinischer Merkur from
1990-98, as well as a monthly columnist for CEO Magazine.
addition, he has been a keynote speaker on geopolitical and geoeconomic issues
and trends at major international conferences organized by asset managers,
investment banks and public policy institutions in Europe, the United States
starting The Globalist, Mr. Richter led a global strategic communications firm
based in Washington, D.C., advising ministers and CEOs of governments, leading
global banks and corporations, international organizations and foundations
around the world.
capacity, he served as North American advisor to the German Economics Ministry
and Vice Chancellor in the early 1990s, when he successfully shaped the “New
Federal States” campaign, designed to create a dynamic brand image for the
former Communist East Germany.
fall of 1990, at the request of the U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, he drafted the
Sense of the U.S. Senate resolution calling for forgiveness of Poland’s
Communist-era public debt. It proved a crucial step in the successful
conclusion of the April 1991 Debt Agreement in the Paris Club.
those activities, he was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit by the President
of Poland in June 2014, as part of the country’s celebrations for the 25th
anniversary of the arrival of freedom.
Richter received his J.D. from the University of Bonn, Germany in 1984, was a
Rotary Foundation Award recipient in 1980-81 and a Congressional Fellow of the
American Political Science Association in 1986-87.
book, Clinton: What Europe and the United States Can Expect, correctly forecast
the Clinton Administration’s emphasis on fiscal consolidation in U.S. public
he was the co-editor of the book, In Search of a Sustainable Future:
Reflections on Economic Growth, Social Equity and Global Governance.