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Close the Electoral College, shorten the transition time

Two welcome if unintended legacies from the Donald Trump years would be getting rid of the Electoral College that put him in office and reducing the time of transition of power after presidential elections, which has enabled him to hinder recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Long before Trump successfully knocked on that anachronistic door, the Electoral College had ushered in the presidency of George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq on the false premise it had weapons of mass destruction aimed at the United States and our Western allies.

That blot on American foreign policy later caused deep regret from president-elect Joe Biden, who had voted in the Senate for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, in violation of U.S. respect for the sovereignty of other nations.

Biden said at the time he had voted for the resolution because Bush told him he needed it to persuade the United Nations to back pressuring Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein to behave. Bush told him, Biden said, that he never intended to invade. So much for taking the word of another politician.

Biden’s acknowledged gullibility didn’t prevent his recent election to the Oval Office, but it always remained an embarrassment to him, especially now that he is so well-known for his willingness to work with leaders of the other party. The soon-to-depart Republican president is giving him another dose of disappointment by refusing to concede the election and by throwing roadblocks in the president-elect’s urgent effort to slow and eventually defeat the pandemic.

While contending that Trump’s lack of cooperation in fighting the national threat was “embarrassing but not debilitating,” Biden warned that Trump’s behavior could well be costing American lives, although that possibility is not enough to change Trump’s spiteful and self-centered behavior.

In any event, Trump’s obtuse disregard for the pain he is inflicting on the whole populace is another reason for voters to re-examine the wisdom of removing the Electoral College and reducing the period allotted for transition to a new administration.

It is time for the popular vote to choose the president, and to honor the intended idea that every single vote should count, no matter in what state it is cast.

Never before has the conduct of a lame-duck president in the weeks before his departure cried out so clearly for shortening the interim between election and inauguration.

Congress should by constitutional amendment change the date of the new president’s inauguration from January 20 to January 5, to coincide with the swearing-in of the new Congress at the start of a new year.

This time around, Biden has already begun his deliberations on such critical decisions for his new administrations as selecting his cabinet members, sub-cabinet officers, White House advisers and many agency leaders. His White House chief of staff is already in place in Ron Klain, who held the same post in Biden’s vice presidency, and his deputy is to be Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who ran the late stages of his winning presidential campaign.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a reaction to Trump’s worst behavior in office led to constructive change in how we pick our presidents from now on, and in how long it takes to transfer power to them once the voters have spoken?

You can respond to this column at juleswitcover@comcast.net.

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