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Wisconsin State Journal Headline About Election Should Concern All Citizens

October 17, 2016

Regardless of which side of the political aisle we call home or which candidate garners our support the following should be something all can agree about.

This election cycle has created enough outlandish headlines there is surely no one left feeling they now have not seen almost everything.  Then came the headline Monday morning on the top half of the Wisconsin State Journal that made he stop and pause and reconsider that notion.

As I peeled off the blue wrapper from the paper I read  “Pence: We will accept outcome”.   It was not a partisan twinge from the headline which I felt but instead a deep sense of dread about what is happening to our nation.  When did respecting the democratic outcome from the voters become old-fashioned?

Over the past months Donald Trump has ramped up his choice of words about the election process being rigged and that the results may then be in doubt.  There is no other major presidential candidate who has used this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election.

There is a firm belief in this nation that the laws of the land guide us and bind us to one another.  It is this acceptance of invisible ties that allow for the peaceful transfer of power in our nation. Sure there have been moments when the better angels did not prevail as when John Adams left by carriage in the dark of night so not needing to attend the inauguration of his successor, Thomas Jefferson.   But in recent times we have watched how being an American supersedes politics when Al Gore gave a most gracious concession speech in 2000 after a frothy court challenge.

What the WSJ headline underscored was the attempt to undermine and delegitimize the winner in the presidential electoral college.  To attempt in any way to persuade voters that fraud is taking place in the election is playing dangerously at a very tense time in our country.  As the paper noted Monday a study by Loyola Law School found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014 there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud.

That there is no substance or statistical evidence to support such a line of rhetoric about voting fraud is but the least of the reasons every voter–regardless of party–should be concerned.

What is being stated for political purposes is not aimed at lifting the nation up but instead is being used for the most base and sinister of reasons. We have seen over the years how a totally inaccurate statement, if used over and over, will seem as a fact to a segment of the electorate.   That is bad enough when it happens regarding the creation of policy but to have such reckless assertions made repeatedly by a nominee of a major political party is nothing short of playing with lit dynamite.

To see the need for such a headline as the one in the paper is troubling for those who treasure the fact for more than two centuries there has been a smooth process where one president is replaced by a new leader.  Who can not marvel at the graciousness days after the election when the current president meets the president-elect at the door to the White House and welcomes the new family in for coffee as they talk about the transition?  It is after all, these types of norms that we have come to expect and the ones that keep our republic healthy and strong.

The method we have for electing leaders, when all is said and done, is not about one party or one person.  I was taught decades ago in civics that our political process for elections is designed so that anyone with the title of citizen has the power and responsibility to cast a ballot and make a choice.  For our nation to add chapters to our long and remarkable past we must stop the tearing down of the norms that have taken us this far.  We must realize this election is not about one person.

This election and the outcome is about us all.

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