I have little doubt that mostly everyone in our nation is exhausted, some more so than others. In between the pandemic and the vitriol of the recent election our emotions are frayed. We need a moment of rest, a brief time to heal mentally. Sadly the very man whose influence might best reassure us and provide us with respite from the anxiety has so far been unwilling to graciously accept the reality of his defeat just as men and women have done from the beginning of our democratic republic.
While the results of the election demonstrate just how divided we are, the process has been fair and no amount of recounting is likely to change the outcome. We must begin to heal. That is the imperative for all of us if our country is to survive and thrive. Healing means loving our country and its people more than personal or party ambition. It means urging all of us to turn to our neighbors and work together to do the hard lifting that lies ahead.
One of the most interesting American political stories involved Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, men who had very different ideas of how best to build a new nation but who had mostly admired one another until the poison of politics stressed their friendship. Eventually they ran against each other for President. It was a hard fought race filled with venom and accusations. Jefferson was victorious but Adams’ bitterness was so intense that for many years the two of them would neither acknowledge nor speak to one another.
Theirs was a feud that seemed unlikely to end until Adams held out an olive branch suggesting that they had both always wanted what was best for the fledgling country. He came to see that their mutual love of the nation was far stronger than their differences so he sent a conciliatory letter to Thomas Jefferson and the two men began a correspondence that would last for the remainder of their lives. Not only were they able to discuss their dreams for the nation that they had helped to establish but they became the best of friends. Ironically both of them died on July 4, 1826. Adams last words were “Jefferson still survives” not knowing that Jefferson had actually died five hours earlier.
We have real issues to face, important battles ahead. We need our President to be conciliatory. We need for him to hold out an olive branch for all of us. We all must acknowledge the results of the election and begin the process of transition and President Trump can help us to do so. Presidents traditionally do these things for the preservation of the systems created by men like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who believed that power should lie with the people, not a king or a dictator. We speak with our votes and then our leaders concede to our voices.
President Jimmy Carter transformed defeat into public service for those struggling to find a safe place in which to live. President George H.W. Bush was heartbroken when he was defeated by Bill Clinton but he too became a model of graciously accepting loss. Eventually he and President Clinton would join forces to remedy the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Their partnership resulted in a deep and respectful friendship. In fact when our former Presidents gather together we see that they are united in the work they have done for the nation. They set aside their partisanship for the good of the people and learn to respect one another just as Adams and Jefferson did.
We are watching, President Trump. We need for you to honor our country and its traditions. We long to see moral courage from you. We need to know that you love all of the people, not just the ones who voted for you. We are exhausted and anxious. Please end your days as our leader with dignity. Model the behavior of the best of our leaders. Ease our fears.
I know that President Trump is beloved by much of the country. I understand the disappointment in his defeat. I have been in those very same shoes a number of times. It is difficult to concede after a hard fought and contentious battle but it is what a truly good leader does in the United States of America.
The winter months ahead will most surely be difficult. President Trump will retain the reins of power until almost the end of January. There will be many issues that he must address during that time. I pray that he will not let us down by sulking and continuing to chafe over his loss. I hope that he will not keep spreading seeds of distrust among his supporters that will only have the effect of further dividing and weakening our country. I want him to be a man who graciously spends his final days in office doing whatever it takes to bind our wounds and keep us as safe as possible from any form of harm.
President Trump may stand in front of thousands of flags flaunting his patriotism but such gestures are meaningless if he tears down our most precious freedom, our right to vote. The voice of the people must be heard. There has been no theft of votes, no fraud so large that it has stolen the election, but right now President Trump is the one appearing to be in the process of mounting a coup. He needs to stop the ridiculousness right now. This is not who we are as a nation. We are a democratic republic and while many may not believe that the best man won, he is still the person with the most popular and electoral votes.
Please, President Trump, acknowledge Joe Biden and ask us all to work with him, not for selfish reasons, but because we all love our country. If you do not destroy the legacy of our election process you will not destroy your own place in history. Be a true American and show your love of country.