There is a good deal of speculation going on about the presidential election outcome. The polls are very favorable to Hillary Clinton. There is still one debate and three long weeks to go before the campaign ends. A bet on Clinton is looking pretty good.
Because of that, people are conjuring up what Donald Trump will say after the election. His tweets seem to indicate that he has no intention of conceding the election after his los. Everyone needs to take a deep breath: it won’t matter too much what he says or does not say on November 9th.
The transition of national power following a presidential election is a time-honored tradition. Here we can even give a proper shout out to Richard Nixon who in 1960 conceded to John Kennedy in the face of suggestions that not everything was on the up-and-up in Illinois that year.
An even more elegant tribute to our democracy was Al Gore’s concession in 2000 after the Republican- appointee dominated United States Supreme Court gave the election to George W. Bush. I often wonder how things would have gone down in the country if Barack Obama had been selected President by the Supreme Court if and after he received fewer popular votes than his Republican opponent.
Then there was a very classy concession speech by John McCain after he lost to Obama in 2008. There have been many others.
No one will ever accuse Donald Trump of being “classy.” His threats to turn over the tables when the results don’t go his way are actually what most of us would expect. We have literally become numb to all of Trump’s transgressions.
Say what he might on November 9th, the elections that will choose the Electoral College that will elect the next president will be totaled, reviewed and certified as official and proper by the respective election authorities in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are legal procedures in place that can and will adjudicate any issues in cases where the results are very close and need another look. It is something that happens every year.
Aside from the official election certifications in the states and DC, one more step will be required this year. Republican Party leadership and elected officials, the people who gave this country the disaster that is Donald Trump, must also, in a clear and public way, say on November 9th that the election is official: Hillary Clinton is our next president. Whether they offer the appropriate, gentlemanly and ladylike notes of congratulations will be up to each and every one of them individually. But, for the good of the country, GOP leadership must affirm the legitimacy of the outcome.
Trump’s tweets suggest that he, himself is not likely to concede or act graciously when the election is over.
Vice presidential candidate Mike Pence seems to prefer another approach. Speaking on last Sunday’s Meet the Press, Pence said “The American people will speak in an election that will culminate on Nov. 8. … One of the great, great traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power,” Pence said. … The Indiana governor then again reiterated he and his running mate will ‘accept the will of the American people.’”
Of course Pence is already planning to run for president in 2020, so he is being diplomatic, or should I write, “politically correct.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has done more twisting and turning this year than your average pretzel factory, last Saturday did offer a decent and appropriate comment through a spokesman: “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
Politics is a very tough profession and it has never been a good fit for the weak of heart and mind. I will totally get all the hot rhetoric that will fly from both Republicans and Democrats over the next three weeks. I would prefer that it all be civil, but I would hope that it will at least be as truthful and respectful as possible.
Trump has set up his straw men for his impending defeat, and the line is getting longer by the day. Clinton and company obviously head the list. As a Democrat, I cannot help but enjoy the schadenfreude moment of seeing Trump seek to take down his fellow Republicans too, to wit: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
And then, of course, there is the dastardly mainstream media. This does not include, of course, Fox News or the radio talk show folks who are in – hook, line and sinker. This particularly includes Fox’s Sean Hannity, who is following Trump so closely from a certain angle that Hannity better hope that Trump does not make a sudden stop. Things have gotten so bad that NBC and CNN have hired security guards for their reporters and crew who are assigned to cover the Trump campaign.
If the Republican leadership in this country does a reasonably good job of accepting the election and moving on, something that remains to be determined, there is one more very big and important lingering problem that will largely be a Republican problem, but one we may all have to live with.
Trump has gone out of his way, for a long time now, to pump up his followers at his rallies and in his press activities. He has spurred hatred. He has encouraged violence on more dates and in more venues than anyone has even attempted to count.
The hatred and violence are not just going to be shut off on November 9th. Here is a sample of the intentions of one of Trump’s most loyal followers, as quoted in the Boston Globe: “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.”
The polls consistently tell us that the majority of people who identify as Republicans support Trump in pretty much all of his vitriol and nastiness. Most of them will settle down next month, but we better hope that those who propose the violence and threats will go back to where they came from.
The country needs to do a lot of healing. The people who created this monster are responsible for making it right, and it’s about time for them to demonstrate their civility, their respect for the law, and their commitment to preserving our peaceful constitutional processes.