One of the things that I most dislike about President Donald Trump is his authoritarian tendencies and his lack of respect for American democratic traditions and democratic norms. Over the past few months, I’ve been appalled at President Trump’s attempts to cast aspersions to mail-in voting, cut funding of the Post Office to weaken mail-in voting, his attempts to undermine the 2020 elections with baseless conspiracy theories,, and his unwillingness in the first Presidential debate to commit to honoring the results of the Presidential elections.
President Trump often talks about making America great again. What makes America great are its democratic values, The peaceful transfer of power is one of the great democratic norms that has kept our democratic republic healthy.
George Washington, our first President, saw his greatest duty as protecting the principles of our American democratic republic. This is the duty of all American Presidents. If President Trump chooses to try to destroy our democratic norms and traditions rather than protect them, he should not be President.
Here is an excerpt of Al Gore’s concession speech, given on December 13, 2000:
“Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time. I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.
Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, ‘Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.’ Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy…
…Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends…
…This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God’s unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny. Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will. Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in a spirit of reconciliation.
So let it be with us.
I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country…
…This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party; we will stand together behind our new president.”