America Again

Election day was three weeks ago. Joe Biden won the presidency by well over six million votes in the popular vote, winning a majority of Electoral votes, 306 to 232. More people voted for Biden than for any presidential candidate in history. His 306 electoral votes matched Trump’s total in the 2016 race, a margin that Trump described then as “a massive landslide victory.”

To this day, the Republican has refused to concede defeat. Instead, he continues to preach to his party followers that he won, and at least one reputable poll found that more than half of the party believes that he “rightfully won” the contest and that large-scale voter fraud occurred. Despite more than 30 lawsuits instigated by the Trump campaign, no evidence of fraud has come to light in a court.

Meanwhile, Emily Murphy, Administrator of the General Services Administration, has been so perplexed by the election results that she has been unable to “ascertain” who won. Because of her inability to ferret out the winner, the Biden transition team has been denied funding, security briefings, and the ability to communicate directly with counterparts in the outgoing administration.

The congressional leadership of the Republican party has also uniformly refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Senate Majority Leader McConnell, unable to admit who won, dangled the rhetorical bauble that the president is “100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” This is a dodge. The president’s rights, whatever they may be, are beside the point: when all the votes were counted, he lost. Allowing for an orderly transition of power—for the good of the country—would not interfere with the loser’s freedom to pursue hopeless, made-up claims that he didn’t really lose.

The truth—that he lost—was not useful to the president. In his mind, the truth was irreconcilable with the Trump brand. Accordingly, the truth must be wrong. The election must have been stolen. There must have been massive fraud, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Fabrication of his alternate reality worked pretty good for the president until November 23, when 160 New York business leaders representing more than 300 important companies sent an open letter to the president exhorting him to allow the transition process to proceed: “Our national interest and respect for the integrity of our democratic process requires that the administrator of the federal General Services Administration immediately ascertain that Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris are the president-elect and vice president-elect so that a proper transition can begin.”

Before the end of the day, the president tweeted: “in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols.” The tweet did not exactly direct the GSA Administrator to “ascertain” that Biden won, and it was anyone’s guess what “initial protocols” were. The tweet was certainly not a concession: “our case STRONGLY continues…and I believe we will prevail.”

And after all, his people—perhaps the only people he felt he needed to impress: New York CEOs—did not call on him to concede or even to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect.  

That same day, Emily Murphy sent a letter to Joe Biden. She informed Biden that “post-election resources and services” would now be available to the Biden transition team. She assured Biden that she “was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of” her decision. She herself did not elaborate on the factors that led to her decision, and she was very careful to specify that she, as GSA Administrator, “does not pick or certify the winner of a presidential election.”

What the McConnell dodge fails to address is the damage that has been done to America by a president who claims the election was rigged. The president even now continues to promote false fraud claims and to insist that he won. Many otherwise presumably rational Americans believe the election was “stolen” from him. They believe because he has told them so. He told them so because the truth is wrong and because he thinks it is perfectly okay to throw out the votes of people who did not vote for him.

There is something grossly un-American about Trump’s refusal to abide by the decision of the voters. Yes, it would be different if there were any factual basis for concluding that fraud had occurred. But there is no fraud in this election except the fraud he is attempting to commit by refusing to concede.

America’s faith in its elections is fundamental to the nation’s survival as a democracy. The idea of fair play—the grace to admit defeat—is central the best in the American character. It is what we teach our children, but it seems our soon-to-be ex-president failed nursery school.

It is time to let America be America again.

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