Over this past weekend, we saw many examples of something coming to an end on our sports fields. Teams prepared, the games started and then, at some point, they ended.
One team lost and another won.
Yes, there was controversy over some of the outcomes—a bad call or maybe even an allegation of cheating—but each had a sense of finality.
Game over. Move on.
We could use that lesson in our national politics right now. We are hearing increasing chatter in the political class that the presidential election may not be over on November 3.
President Trump is planting the seeds of an illegitimate outcome by questioning the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. Democrats are stoking fears that Trump may not accept the outcome if he loses.
Trump added fuel to the fire last week when asked if he will ensure a peaceful transition of power if he loses. The president responded, “We’ll see what happens. Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer frankly. There will be a continuation.”
That prompted West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to introduce a resolution in the Senate reaffirming the Senate’s commitment “to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.” It passed with bipartisan support.
Trump should have answered the question more succinctly with a simple, “Of course, but that is not going to be an issue because I’m going to win.” Problem solved. But after almost four years we know Trump is not given to diplomatic responses.
Yes, the country is divided, and the politics are tribal, but as bad as it seems, the condition is nothing like it was for the election of 1864. The country was literally divided by war, the North and the South, and the preservation of the union was at stake.
Abraham Lincoln easily won re-election over George McClellan. Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. It was clear that the long and bloody Civil War that would claim over 600,000 American lives was ending in favor of the Union, and Lincoln used his inaugural address to call for healing.
“…With malice toward none, with charity for all…”
We are not in the midst of a Civil War now, but the country is clearly polarized and on edge. There is no real end in sight for the pandemic and racial unrest continues to boil up across the country.
We are in desperate need of an end to this presidential campaign, an election day where the results are accurately tabulated and there is a clear winner and a loser. Where the political game is over, and governing can begin.
Whoever the winner, he should review Lincoln’s words before making his own inaugural address. No malice, only charity.