Tradition is a big part of Election Night.
The TV networks and news agencies, with their analysts on hand to parse the results, make their calls on states as the vote totals roll in. Eventually, we get a winner. Someone crosses the 270-electoral vote threshold to become elected president of the United States.
In November, we’ll go through it again.
One of two men, Joe Biden or Donald Trump, will emerge the winner. I hope it’s Biden. You know that already.
Suppose the polls we see today showing Biden winning big on Nov. 3 hold up. Biden wins. Tradition dictates that the person who falls short calls the winner to concede, to offer his congratulations and, presumably, his support and cooperation during the transition.
Then, according to tradition, the winner strides to a microphone to declare victory. While making that declaration, though, the winner usually mentions the “gracious and warm phone call” he gets from the opponent.
Ahh, that’s where it might break down … if the guy I want to win actually wins.
You see, Donald Trump has said a number of things that seem to put that Election Night tradition in some jeopardy. He might not accept the election result. He might challenge it. He’ll accuse someone of “rigging” the result. What’s more, we’re likely to slog our way through the campaign with heaps of mud being slung … from Trump to Biden and perhaps some in response from Biden to Trump. These men will not end this campaign as friends.
I have this fear that the tradition we long have boasted about — the peaceful transition of power from one party to the other one — might not play out once we get the ballots counted.
Does anyone expect Trump to say anything gracious about his foe no matter the result? For that matter, should we expect Biden to speak well of his foe given what we can expect to come from Trump throughout the remainder of this political bloodbath?
Tradition is in trouble, I fear, as we await the result of what is sure to be a most consequential election.
Then again … we can hope that sanity prevails on Election Night.