You know by now. We have just witnessed something that does not happen often: the incumbent elected president was on November 3 defeated in his re-election bid. Joseph Biden of Pennsylvania and Delaware will be the 46th president of the United States.
JOE BIDEN DEFEATS PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP The Associated Press declares Joe Biden the winner of a grueling campaig… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Associated Press (@AP) November 07, 2020
In the last century, an elected incumbent has been defeated only three times: in 1932, in 1980, and in 1992. This is how the 1992 defeated incumbent, George H. W. Bush, behaved in his concession speech. If you are younger than thirty-five you are unlikely to remember; but I was alive and recall it – we did not realize at the time, but looking back from now it was, perhaps, in some ways, as was said in a now famous film, “a more civilized age“:
Even if civility has not yet much been in evidence from the 2020 defeated incumbent, you have just lived an historical moment.
Okay, we can thankfully start to move on. Briefly I once more put on my former politics lecturer cap.
I recall here Thomas Jefferson’s all still too true words from his first inaugural after an 1800 presidential campaign in which every insult and charge imaginable was hurled at each other from the two political “parties” of then, Jefferson’s “Republicans” vs. the defeated “Federalists”:
…every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
I have already made my views clear on what I consider the fundamental unfitness for office of the outgoing president: he was a disgrace. That is now water under the bridge. He is leaving office due to his repudiation by a majority of U.S. voters.
Of the President-elect, our allies are thrilled. The New York Times:
“You will be able to have a coherent conversation with a normal guy,” said Gérard Araud, a former French ambassador to Washington, who sat in on often discursive exchanges between Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron.
Mr. Araud said the ascension of Mr. Biden — a “nice guy, a smiling guy,” as he put it — would have emotional resonance for many Europeans, particularly older ones, who struggled to reconcile Mr. Trump’s unyielding “America First” vision with the generous, if imperfect, country they knew in the postwar period.
“They need to love America,” Mr. Araud said. “There is a sentimental relationship with America, which the Americans always underestimate.”
We as Americans among ourselves may at times forget – or we are MANIPULATED into forgetting by demagogues such as the soon to be ex-president – that we have more in common than we may realize. We must always remember where we agree. And we should DISCUSS our differences and disagreements in a civilized manner and in doing so be an example of good governance to the world looking on, and often looking to our country as a guide.
We have lives to live for the next four years under what will hopefully be a competent and decent president occupying the office created with George Washington in mind.
Author: “Tomorrow The Grace,” “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains…and the 1700s.