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EDITORIAL: Transitions don't always go smoothly
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EDITORIAL: Transitions don't always go smoothly

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With the nation as divided as election results show and Republicans standing with President Donald Trump about issues with the vote in key states, moving toward a seamless transition to a new administration is unlikely.

Critics say Trump and Republicans are being obstructionist, knowing their challenges will not be successful.

Republicans contend election practices such as wholesale mail-in voting, many implemented via Democratic lawsuits in 2020, must be addressed now. And there is the matter of the runoff elections in Georgia in early January that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. The election season is not over.

As if 2020 has not had enough tension, worry and anxiety in COVID-19 times, what's happening in a presidential transition is now added to the list.

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Let's face it, America's tradition of peaceful transfer of power is not the worldwide norm. But the transfer will occur again -- and peacefully. People should relax about that.

But governmental change is not always smooth.

In the way of helping Americans cope with what they are witnessing, we offer examples as pointed out by Aron Solomon, senior digital strategist for and an adjunct professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, in writing for

Examples from "The Worst Transitions in U.S. Presidential History":

• President Jimmy Carter to President Ronald Reagan in 1980-81 was a difficult because of the global political situation. Reagan and Carter were as different personally and ideologically as presidents can be, but the most significant obstacle in the transition was American hostages in Iran. They were freed on Inauguration Day.

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• Personal relationship between the sitting and elected president greatly impacted the change from Harry Truman to Dwight Eisenhower. "Their personal battle grew from perceived betrayals of the foundation of strong cooperative work if not even personal friendship. The transition period from the election to inauguration was marred by a complete lack of civility between the two, which included Eisenhower refusing to attend a holiday lunch at the White House and refusing to meet Truman before the inauguration ceremony, marking another break with tradition."

• The one-day transition from President Richard Nixon to President Gerald Ford was reminiscent of the darkest moments in American history where a president is killed while in office. But rather than the nation dealing with the physical death of a president, they were watching the Nixon presidency euthanized in real time.

The worst transition

"... To find what many historians believe to be the worst transition in American presidential history, we have to go back to 1861 and the ascension of Abraham Lincoln.

"While we talk a lot today about how the United States is a nation divided, in 1861 seven states in the U.S. South had left the union shortly before Lincoln‘s presidency.

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"What made the transition tenuous from election day was the result itself. At just under 40% of the popular vote, President Lincoln had a smaller plurality in the election than any president in American history aside from John Quincy Adams, who won the 1824 election with less than 31% of the vote."

Looking ahead

As much history reminds us that political difficulties are not new, it also teaches lessons about outcomes.

Solomon states: "History has shown that while many difficult presidential transitions retain the same strained tone throughout the presidency, it is also possible to transform a difficult transition into a successful presidency."

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The rub is defining success. In too many instances today, each side sees success as the failure of the other.



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