The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
During the third presidential debate, Donald Trump said something unprecedented: that he would not accept the results of the election. He said that he would “look at [the results] at the time,” that he would keep us “in suspense.” Without evidence, he suggested that the election was rigged against him. All of this suggested that America was possibly in for a president who does not value democracy, who questions his voters’ opinions and who doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the voting process.
It is a statement that many politicians and Americans, both for and against him, criticized. But after over a year of insanity on both sides, the day has finally come. At the end of today every voter has a task before them: they need to accept the results of this election.
There is no doubt that the democratic process in America has come under fire in the past couple of decades. The Electoral College is an ominous mystery to many Americans. According to a study done by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 43 percent of Americans don’t even know what it is. But the truth is that the Electoral College has only voted in a president who did not win popular vote four times in history.
The most recent example, and the most relevant one, is the election of George W. Bush, who “lost” to Al Gore in 2000 by a large margin of 500,000 votes but won the Electoral College 271 to 266. The public felt cheated and that began to set a highly divisive precedent for the next election years.
But this phenomenon is a rarity. The election is not rigged and that will be especially true in this election cycle. The Electoral College system may contain certain biases that seem antiquated 228 years after the Constitution was ratified, but it is a transparent system and process that we have accepted in the past as legitimate. “Rigged” would imply that the rules will not be followed. They will be followed. To claim that the system is rigged without any credible evidence, and before the election has even happened no less, is damaging to the sanctity of American democracy.
If anything, this election has shown that, more than ever, the two-party system may not actually be working. Even deciding states like Ohio are going into the election with a very close split between blue and red. And if this says anything about the American public, it’s that there needs to be a change.
The split within parties on both sides (between Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters on the Democratic side and the early Republican battle between four very different, mostly effective rhetoricians) is reflective of what the American public needs: something different. That’s probably why both of our candidates are what they are — either a “Glass Ceiling” breaker or a “fiery” political outsider.
At any rate, the results of tonight’s election will determine the shape and stance that the United States will take in the next few years, and that means that the American public needs to accept the results in order to move the country forward. That does not mean to take the results laying down. That means voting. Popular vote has real power in the United States, and knowing that should fuel your desire to shape the future of this country. Much of the rhetoric peddling the idea that this election will be automatically rigged and therefore voting doesn’t matter is both false and misleading. It is rhetoric meant to bar Americans from the polls.
Pollsters have indicated that this election will either have the lowest or highest voter turnout in decades; either way, we the voters determine that. It is our duty as Americans to participate in the conversation, to write our own history, to secure an America that we can be proud of — so go vote.
The American government is predicated on a peaceful transition of power. This very phenomenon that began with George Washington himself is what separates successful democracies from chaotic ones. If any side refuses to respect the process, the precedent that would set will have far more negative consequences than either candidate’s success or failure. Even Al Gore, in the wake of his loss in 2000, conceded the election to George W. Bush, putting the legitimacy of the system above any single political event.
At some point, we may as a nation decide that we need to change the Constitution to accommodate our views on how we should select leaders and how our parties coagulate. Until then, the sake of greater good demands that we accept the results of this election.
The past few months have been divisive times for the American people. In such times, it is important that we can unite behind the legitimacy of the system in the end. As long as accusations of widespread corruption remain unfounded, that is a lesson we hope all candidates and their supporters remember.