In a few more hours on Tuesday, Sept. 14, the day this column was written, the results (at least most of them) will be in. Since mailed-in ballots that were postmarked by this date will still be counted, the end results may not be released to the public for days or weeks. But the real result itself will still be known by Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Either California Gov. Gavin Newsome will still be the elected head of this state’s government, or in a stunning upset, a lesser-known Republican party candidate will have dethroned him. Your money should not be on the latter occurring.
No matter the result, California government, at least for the next few years, will certainly be different. A trend will have been established by election losers to claim unsubstantiated voter fraud whenever they suffer a loss at the polling place, particularly when those contenders for office are members of the GOP. One of the principal contenders for Governor Newsom’s job started claiming voter fraud even before all the votes were in.
This is a Trumpian tactic and the result of too many years of everybody getting an award at the end of a contest. Sure, nobody likes to lose—no matter the competition—but in everybody’s life that will certainly happen and more than likely many times. One of the cardinal acts in a civilization’s teachings is educating the young on how to lose. Whether one loses with grace, or rancor, losing and accepting it is part of life in a modern community. Trying to tar and feather the winners for simply winning generally does not fly.
Before Trump in politics, that was the accepted standard. In fact, nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or even the Federalist Papers about the writing of the Constitution is contesting elections by claiming fraud even mentioned.
The habit of a losing presidential candidate publicly acknowledging that loss and congratulating the winner was started by presidential contender William Jennings Bryan in his 1896 contest against William McKinley, the 25th POTUS. Two days after the polling was announced, as a matter of courtesy and good manners, Bryan telegraphed his concession to McKinley. Since then, concession speeches from losing candidates have been regularly expected. Donald Trump expected one from Hilary Clinton, but refused to give one to Joe Biden when Trump’s re-election bid failed. The idea of showing decent home training and manners in political contests was, until recently, a virtual inevitability. Now, at least for one political party, Trumpian manners of destruction rule the roost.
Now, of course, we are still in the waning dark days of the January 6th insurrection, and neither chivalry nor civility are norms anymore. It is fully expected that the non-chivalrous candidate(s) will lose the recall effort and there won’t be a concession speech. We should not expect a snarling cat to become a cuddly kitten.
To cement their new legacy of political mean-spiritedness and in-your-face political engagement, there will probably not be even a concession Facebook memo or congratulatory tweet from Elder or any of the other 38 republican also-rans after the counting has been done.
If there are any cooler heads remaining in that political party, one thinks they need to speak up before the damage to the party’s image and reputation is too far gone to be revived. It may already be too late, but one clearly gets more milk from a contented elephant than one constantly on the growl.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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