I recently had a chance to watch snippets of every presidential concession speech dating back to 1960.
They all had one message in common. Whether the losing presidential candidate lost by a lot or a little, they all spoke of the marvelous element of our democratic process that has made us proud: that we should honor the results of an election, no matter how much it hurts.
Some of the presidential losers lost by landslides or near-landslides: Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, John McCain. They all pledged their support for the men who beat them. Others lost by just a little: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Al Gore, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Hubert Humphrey, Hillary Clinton. They, too, honored the victors by offering their support.
Where am I going with this? One name is missing. As I listened to all the losing presidential candidates, I was struck by the grace and the class all the losing candidates exhibited in that moment of pain.
Donald J. Trump didn’t exhibit either of those traits after the 2020 election. His refusal to concede that he lost an election has scarred the democratic process he swore an oath to protect and defend.
This individual’s behavior in that moment when defeat was declared will stand in my mind as the glaring testimony to his utter lack of character. It is the kind of behavior that illustrates in graphic detail this man’s complete and absolute unfitness for the very job he occupied for four years.
I have watched along with the rest of the country how he has denigrated the office with his insults and epithets. Many of those incidents individually would be enough to disqualify this man from public office.
I will circle back, though, to The Big Lie he keeps repeating and his refusal to honor the tradition we all — and this hurts to say it — seemingly had taken for granted. Which was that the individual who loses a presidential election concedes with grace, and we move on to the next steward of the nation’s executive branch of government.
Trump’s absence from that list of concessions is unforgivable.