Losing an election is not fun, and conceding an election is not easy.
I would know. As you’re probably aware, I recently ran for a seat in the Washington State House of Representatives. Calling my opponent, Representative-elect Jamila Taylor, the day after Election Day was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever made.
But I made it. And I’m proud I did. Because, while conceding an election is definitely one of the less enjoyable aspects of it, it’s still a vital part of what has kept our American experiment successful.
And that’s true whether the election is for the State House or the White House.
After I called Representative-elect Taylor, I watched some of the high-profile concession speeches being shared recently. Al Gore’s in 2000, John McCain’s in 2008, and even Hillary Clinton’s in 2016. All of them shared the same respect for their opponent, a hope for the future, and the desire for a better tomorrow despite their loss at the polls.
Our democracy is built, and has stood for almost 250 years, on the foundations of our collective belief in the rule of law, the authority of the Constitution, and in the peaceful transition of power. Our shared values, and the civic traditions that follow, are what has separated our form of government from the doomed autocracies of history’s failed nations.
American civic traditions are expressions of our faith in American democracy, and each time they’re exercised, they imply a restatement of commitment to our founding principles. Whether it’s voting, running for office, governing, or yes, conceding an election, each act is a quiet statement of optimism that our nation has the moral resolve, the national character, and the solid underpinnings to carry on.
I felt that it was my duty to concede the race. And I can say that, in doing it, I felt that I was still positively contributing to a process and a system far greater than me.
That, I think, is why President Trump’s refusal to concede an election he lost strikes us as so sharply offensive. It’s not just that he’s prolonging a political season we’re all ready to see come to an end, it’s that he’s doing so by insisting we the people cannot select our leaders. That our democratic processes aren’t a sufficient means to carrying on. That our American experiment failed.
He is, essentially, condemning as worthless our collective belief in the rule of law, the authority of the Constitution, and the peaceful transition of power. He’s disowning his faith in American democracy, and he’s demanding that we the people do the same.
I don’t think my Federal Way neighbors have any intention of doing that. I don’t think anyone in Washington has any intention of doing that. And I, for one, certainly have no intention of doing that.
Even if that means making a difficult phone call.
Martin Moore, Federal Way