Donald Trump is our president and has every right to ensure that President-elect Biden was duly and fairly elected by the American voters. However shocking and painful it would be to those of us who voted for Biden — some almost 80 million — we should accept and respect the decision of our courts’ final count if they found Trump to be the president-elect instead.
On Nov. 8, 2016, once it was clear that Hillary Clinton had lost, outgoing President Obama and Mrs. Clinton both offered immediate congratulations to President-elect Trump, pledging their unqualified support. They assured the world that the transition of power would occur precisely as our Founding Fathers dreamed it would: with pomp and ceremony, and with the families and friends of the winning and losing candidates appearing together — symbolizing that amazing spirit of our United States of America.
President Trump has a constitutional right to challenge Biden’s victory. However, this does not in any way grant him the license to do irreparable damage to our democracy — something he has achieved by sowing seeds of misinformation throughout his base; claims that he has been robbed, that the entire election is a fraud, etc.
Trump waters those seeds by withholding from Biden the National Security information that Biden needs to prepare to protect us from Russia, China, and America’s other foreign adversaries. President Trump refuses to share updates on the pandemic with President-elect Biden — he won’t even allow the General Services Administration to provide Biden’s staff with the proper office space and the basic resources they need to keep us alive during one of modern history’s deadliest pandemics. He is displaying a wanton disregard for the many thousands more Americans who are likely to perish due to these delays.
The way Trump is behaving calls into question whether there will be a vibrant and free America, when America gets to vote again in two years — let alone the next presidential election. This threat is existential. It poisons our minds, pitts one side against the other, and propagates all the ingredients needed to sabotage our daily lives. The President must not be allowed to say that he will accept the final results only if he agrees with them. The condition of ‘if’ must be retracted immediately. He cannot spread lies to his base that the election was stolen once the courts have settled the matter. The Obamas, the Bidens, and, yes, the McConnells, the Ted Cruzes, and the Lindsey Grahams must all state to the nation that who gains the presidency is NOT Trump’s call to make once the courts have spoken.
The many good and loyal Republicans who seek reelection in two years and the impressive list of those aspiring to run for the presidency, including Donald Trump himself, must emulate what the Democrats demonstrated in 2016: an ability to suffer the shock and pain, summon up their strength, and wait patiently for the next general election.
There must be some on the Republican side who are brave and able, and who are committed more to our democracy than to their party. They must call for Trump to encourage his highly-armed citizen militia to stand down, they must call on Trump to not fan the flames of hatred and division. To, as Jesse Jackson always said, “Keep hope alive.” Thus far, the President has kept us and the world in suspense. History will recall his recklessness and his disrespect for our most precious values.
Those wounds won’t be healed easily. But walking away from all of this, our United States will rebound stronger than ever. We will be ready once more to fight it all out politically, constitutionally, joyously, and peacefully, knowing that there will never again be as much drama, dread, and death as we saw during these past four years. America marches on toward a more perfect union and world.