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President Biden is expected to speak from the White House at 8:15 tonight regarding the school shooting in Texas. Radio IQ will join NPR's coverage and All Things Considered at 8pm.

Peaceful Transition of Power: Precious & Rare


The peaceful transition of political power is a hallmark of democracy.

New administrations have to ramp up quickly in an increasingly complex world. Political scientists formed an organization 20 years ago, specifically to help new administrations make the increasingly complex transition to the white house.

Virginia Tech political science professor Karen Hult is a founding member of the Center for Presidential Transition. 

"We now call ourselves the Presidency and Executive Politics Group.   Most of us are presidency scholars.”  Hult says, "It's a relatively small group."

And it’s decidedly non-partisan, she adds.

"We work with candidates from both parties. We tend to focus on the white house staff and that's people like the chiefs of staff, the white house, counsel's office staff, secretary, the national security council staff, those sorts of folks."

The idea is to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of their predecessors in the office. There’s a lot to learn, fast.  "New administrations work with old administrations in at least five tabletop crisis exercises." says Hult.  "What would you do if...?" 

If there were a global pandemic, what steps would you take?

Who would you notify? Who would you work with?

“That’s what the Bush administration... and the Obama administration, did to try to make this transition process as systematic and as constructively useful as possible.” says Hult.

“Now, you asked about the Trump administration,” Hult says. 

I'd asked, how that process had gone in the last presidential transition.

“That process broke down in the 2016 transition.”  

Hult says, the communications breakdown came when then President Trump, fired former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who’d been in charge of the transition to the new administration. Trump later fired the entire transition planning staff as well according to the organization.