As of this writing, former Vice President Joe Biden has taken the lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania and has been declared the winner, while President Trump has whittled away at Biden’s lead in Arizona. After a tumultuous couple of days needed to count 100 million paper absentee ballots in addition to Election Day votes, it appears that when all the votes are tallied, President Trump will have lost the election, and Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States
Losing hurts. And in a public arena, such as a national election, losing must sting all the more. But at the end of the day, it is the duty of the candidates to accept the choice of the voters, however difficult. That choice is the most essential principle of democracy, and upon that principle rests the secure knowledge and confidence that the government is of the people, by the people and for the people. Candidates, winners and losers alike, must respect and honor the electoral process in every election.
But when faced with the possibility that he legitimately may have been voted out, President Trump held a grievance-filled press conference on Thursday claiming that “they” were trying to “steal the election from us.” Doubling down on his early Wednesday morning speech alleging a “fraud on the American people” and urging vote counting to stop on election night while he was still ahead, the President of the United States accused pretty much everyone, including pollsters, the media and Democrats who are somehow running the “voting apparatus” in (historically red) states, of election interference, voter suppression, fraud and corruption. He insinuated that the mail-in ballots that he had urged his supporters not to cast, which have overwhelmingly come in from Democrats, were manufactured. He called into question the diligent work being done by election officials, suggesting that they had rigged the election in Biden’s favor, and challenged the integrity of the election itself. It was a shameful attempt at undermining the election process and did absolutely nothing to unite the country or respect the will of the people.
At this, we really need to say enough. Surely, irrespective of our political differences, we can all agree on a few fundamental things. Counting every vote is a bedrock principle of democracy. No one, not the president and not any of his attorneys, has any business undermining the voting process. If there is a legitimate cause of action that can be supported by evidence, then by all means bring it, but if not, don’t criticize the electoral process as corrupt and fraudulent when you’re losing. No one should be suggesting that Republican legislatures should seat electors that cast votes for the president rather than their state’s winner. This undermining of the electoral process serves no purpose other than to further polarize Americans and attempt to delegitimize the next president, whether it’s Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Enough is enough.
We do not publish this editorial lightly, and we are mindful that some may see it as partisan. We do not view this as a matter of taking sides against one candidate or another. The inflammatory language employed by the president seeks to undermine the integrity of the election and cast doubt on its results. We cannot remain silent lest our silence provide tacit approval, and we speak now only because we are compelled to, as lawyers who stand for the rule of law, because the people have a right to be confident in the result of the election. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, no one, not even the president, should be undermining that.
It’s time for the country to unite. Let’s move forward together into the next stage of American history.