George Washington is considered one of the great American presidents for many reasons, but the main attribute may have more to do with the precedent he set for his successors.
Unlike other countries around the world, Washington set into motion a peaceful transfer of power in America from one chief executive to the next. John Adams became the second president not because of a coup or a violent revolution, but because Washington retired and Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson in the 1796 election. And Jefferson accepted that result.
In every presidential election since, this example has been followed. It is a well-earned point of pride for our nation.
The campaign for the 2020 presidential election is well underway. Twenty-four Democrats have announced their candidacies to succeed
Donald Trump as commander-in-chief. It’s time to ask whether Trump will accept the results of his next election.
John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and Trump in 2016 all lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College. But again, in each case, the opponent conceded for the good of the nation.
“Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken,” Al Gore said in his Dec. 13, 2000 concession speech after the ruling was handed down in the case of Bush v. Gore. “Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. ... And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”
Compare that conciliatory tone with President Trump. At the end of the first debate against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Trump grudgingly said he would accept the 2016 election’s results. Then, seeing his poll numbers plummet, Trump rescinded this pledge, calling the election “rigged” at many of his rallies.
Trump revealed his insincerity at one in Delaware, Ohio, just two weeks before the election.
"I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” he said.
By throwing the legitimacy of the election out the window days before Election Day 2016, Trump took a battering ram to the very foundation of our government.
Trump’s pride can’t fathom the idea he might actually lose. Americans need to know what could happen if he does.