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EDITORIAL: Trump’s legacy defined by one day

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President Donald Trump has failed in spectacular fashion to recognize his election loss. He hasn’t yet conceded to president-elect Joseph Biden. Indeed, Trump has since Nov. 3 been on a relentless campaign to reverse his loss. He has turned to the court and political systems, and has even asked an election commissioner in at least one key state to “find votes.”

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Finally, and most tragically, Trump used his presidential platform on Jan. 6 to incite a crowd to storm the Capitol building where senators were about to certify results of the Electoral College to formally seal Biden’s win. Trump’s speech came after an attempt to convince Vice-President Mike Pence, who presides as Senate president, to somehow change the certification. Pence refused.

Trump’s exhortations were unpresidential but also smack of insurrection. Never in the history of America has a sitting president asked his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol, much less disrupt a constitutionally-mandated function.

If ever there were grounds for impeachment, or for the use of the 25 th Amendment (which removes the president from office), it is now.

There’s no doubt the Nov. 3 election had problems, but that’s not unusual. U.S. elections are notorious for some failure. Sometimes human error and sometimes conniving are at the core. And unlike in Canada where an Election Commission has authority over federal elections, thereby ensuring uniformity and few irregularities, elections in the U.S. are the domain of the states. There is a hodgepodge of rules, a dog’s breakfast of regulations, leaving the process routinely exposed to chicanery and the inevitable questions and conspiracy theories that follow.

But an innate sense of decency and respect for the nation, and for democracy, usually prevails.

An example is the 1960 election of John Kennedy. It was close. Evidence quickly arose that Chicago’s powerful mayor had used his influence to illegally tip the scales. Richard Nixon was advised to contest the outcome. But he refused, saying an investigation would cause great harm to the nation.

Nixon was right. And Trump continues to be wrong. He should have conceded to Biden within days of the Nov. 3 vote. He didn’t then and he still hasn’t, placing his nation and all Americans in an environment where the seeds of doubt and conspiracy have been allowed to flourish.

Trump will leave office on Jan. 20. Whatever success he achieved as president (every U.S. president has some success sometimes) will be overshadowed by a profound failure that found its ultimate expression on Jan. 6.

– Peter Epp

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