We couldn’t help but place our foreheads squarely in our palms Thursday morning at the split screen of President Donald Trump supporters. On one side, crowds in Pennsylvania demanding elections officials “stop the count.” On the other, chants from voters in Arizona declaring “count the vote.”
Why the disconnect? In the Keystone State, the president was ahead. Out west, the president trailed.
It’s remarkable we have to say this, but that’s not how American elections work; you don’t just stop or start counting to arrive at the outcome you desire. That’s not how the 2016 contest worked — much to the Democrats’s chagrin — and it’s not how this unprecedented cycle will work.
This isn’t a partisan notion here: All ballots that were legally cast should be counted. Absentee and early votes have been around for years, and it’s not out of the norm for those ballots be counted after Election Day. It’s just this year there were millions upon millions of early votes to count — and understandably so given a global pandemic that has now killed more than 230,000 Americans.
Anyone intentionally seeking to discredit our democratic institutions — namely, here, our free, open and integral elections — is no patriot. They are a stain on this shining city upon a hill.
We understand many of the president’s supporters back him because he’s disrupted a long-entrenched Washington power system and continued to bolster an already strong economy (pre-pandemic, anyway). And we can see where former Vice President Joe Biden’s supporters are coming from when they view Trump as a demagogue with a tenuous relationship with the facts and the consequences of his actions.
But we cannot empathize with those who believe there is some vast conspiracy by genuinely honest and altruistic election officials who dedicate their lives to the sanctity of our election and, therefore, our republic.
As of this writing, the final results were unknown. And with regards to this discourse, we don’t care who wins. We simply want Americans to come together, to grasp how elections work, to stop with the nonsense, and to acknowledge that while everyone has different beliefs — shaped by past experiences, innumerable influences and infinite circumstances — we all have a human obligation to be decent, honest and virtuous.