Today marks two weeks since Election Day 2020, and despite decisive losses in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, President Donald Trump continues to insist that he won re-election.
Granted, his declarations are becoming less forceful with the passage of time, and it seems that Trump is very slowly coming to terms with the fact that he has no grounds on which to contest the election.
But as a nation, we don’t have time for Trump to slowly make his way through the five stages of mourning.
The transition stage between one administration and the next is a crucial aspect of American democracy.
Traditionally, it’s one of the few times that members of opposing parties are able to set aside their differences and focus on what’s best for the future of our nation.
But Trump has built his political career on disrespect for the norms and institutions that have allowed American democracy to function — albeit, not always smoothly — for centuries.
No one who has watched the president protect his own ego at all cost and continually defy the tenets of polite society is the least bit surprised by his refusal to concede.
But it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and demand that he accept the results of the election.
Traditionally, this is a time when the president reaches across the aisle with a conciliatory gesture, but since he refuses, civilians must do so on his behalf.
And it should come as no surprise, that one of America’s most devoutly patriotic private citizens is leading the charge.
Michelle Obama surprised her Instagram followers this week with a public plea for the president to reach out to Joe Biden and commence the transition process.
She began her message with a poignant reflection on the events of 2016, during which she and her husband were forced to put personal feelings aside and assist the Trumps with their transition into lives of public service.
“Hillary Clinton had just been dealt a tough loss by a far closer margin than the one we’ve seen this year. I was hurt and disappointed—but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won,” the former first lady recalled.
“The American people had spoken. And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do. So my husband and I instructed our staffs to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power—one of the hallmarks of American democracy,” she continued.
“We invited the folks from the president-elect’s team into our offices and prepared detailed memos for them, offering what we’d learned over the past eight years.”
From there, Mrs. Obama reminded her readers that then, as now, she was no great fan of Donald Trump — and with very good reason.
“I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me. Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger,” she wrote.
“That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside,” Michelle continued.
“So I welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and talked with her about my experience, answering every question she had—from the heightened scrutiny that comes with being First Lady to what it’s like to raise kids in the White House.”
The former first lady makes it clear that she had every reason to resent her duty — but she performed it anyway.
She did so not because of any shift in her opinion toward the Trumps, but because she understood that easing the transition was part of her duty to the country.
“The presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party,” Obama wrote on Instagram.
“To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories — whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country’s health and security in danger. This isn’t a game,” she continued.
“Our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego,” the former first lady wrote.
“Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently.”
Michelle Obama’s message is addressed to her followers, but make no mistake about its intended recipient:
The Obamas are pleading with Trump in the same way as millions of other Americans.
They’re hoping against hope that Trump will give up his final power struggle and, for the first time in his life, put duty above ego.
Unfortunately, it’s become almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which the president will civilly concede and take part in a peaceful transfer of power.
Trump has one final chance to try and dismantle American democracy — and clearly, he intends to take full advantage of it.
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