Press: Admit defeat — nobody likes a sore loser
America’s in bad shape. We’ve suffered through four years of Donald Trump’s abhorrent behavior in the White House. We’re now experiencing the worst public health crisis in our lifetime, a near recession, painful reminders of systemic racism, and destructive wildfires and hurricanes exacerbated by climate change. And we just survived the longest and most grueling presidential campaign ever.
From coast to coast, in red states and blue, bedraggled Americans are asking: Can we ever pull back together? And how do we move on from here? The answer is: Yes, we can pull back together, and we can do so in three steps.
One, Respect the Process. Our system of elections might be messy, but it’s democracy in action. According to the Constitution, each state determines when its citizens may vote, and how they count the vote. Despite the differences, state officials and vote-counting personnel are trained to provide the earliest and most accurate count possible. They did so heroically this year, despite a record number of ballots cast and the triple difficulty of counting mail-in ballots, early ballots and election day ballots.
Two, Accept the results. Elections are tough. I was a statewide candidate in California, I know. You put your heart and soul into it. You’re dying to win. It hurts like hell to lose. But, in the end, you don’t throw a tantrum or turn over the game board and throw all the Monopoly money up in the air. You put your big boy pants on and accept reality: The people have spoken and they did not choose you.
Three, Put the Campaign Behind You and Move On. As Joe Biden noted in his victory speech on Nov. 7, it’s all laid out in the Bible. There’s “a time to weep, and a time to laugh…a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). In the political realm, we might add: “a time to campaign, and a time to govern.” Once the votes are counted and the winner’s declared, it’s time for politicians to put the campaign behind them and do what the American people elected them to do: reach across the aisle and work together to solve problems.
That’s the only way to move forward. That’s the only way to heal and unite this country. The problem is, Donald Trump refuses to do any of the above. Rather than respect the electoral process, he’s done everything he can to undermine it, starting long before the votes were cast. Rather than commend election workers for the long hours they put in, he’s accused them of stealing the election for Joe Biden.
Instead of accepting the results, Trump’s challenging the results, sending his squad of disgraced lawyers out to file a flurry of lawsuits making baseless claims of voter fraud in five states. And, of course, according to him, fraud occurred only in states that went for Biden, not in any of the states he carried.
Instead of putting the campaign behind him, Trump’s still planning more rallies, refusing to invite Biden to the White House for the traditional transition visit, blocking the General Services Administration from certifying the election so the Biden team can begin meeting with outgoing administration officials, and vowing to make no concession speech nor attend the Biden inauguration.
For Donald Trump, the longer he sulks, the smaller he looks — to Republicans and Democrats alike. We all love a good game. We all love a close game. We all love a spirited contest. But, in the end, nobody likes a sore loser.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”
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