Not from Donald Trump, for whom the word grace is wholly unfamiliar. It’s not in his makeup to admit that he’s a loser, which is understandable given his toxic combination of ignorance and cynicism. After all, when one views the world as a game between liars and manipulators, only losers concern themselves with anything but not losing.
There was never any doubt by lawyers who weren’t intentionally delusional that the State of Texas’ attempt to get the Supreme Court, with two very conservative justices and three more nominated by Trump, would reject the case. Like the 50-plus other state and federal cases that failed miserably, it was doomed. And it was obvious that it was doomed. It was that bad, that devoid of merit on every level. And so the Supreme Court, a court as “friendly” as Texas and Trump could possibly hope for, crushed his dreams.*
No doubt Trump will keep spewing, and his believers will keep believing because that’s what Trump does and that’s what believers do, reality notwithstanding. Pressure will be brought to bear on state officials and congresspeople to do something, to simply ignore the vote and law and anoint Trump president. The weirdest part is that they would do this for Trump, of all people, who wouldn’t be bothered to pee on them if they were on fire.
But Trump lost. And lost and lost. And lost some more. For Trump, his combination of cynical idiocy and gracelessness is nothing new. This is Trump at his finest. But what about the others, the 17 states attorneys general who joined as amici, the 126 House Republican, who made the decision to insert themselves into this fiasco?
Republicans are establishing a new standard for elections that anything short of a fight to the death amounts to not trying hard enough. The old norm of graceful concession was not just an act of good manners. A concession has no legal force, but it has considerable value as an affirmation that the democratic process is more important than the result.
Conceding leaves the nation’s political and social systems functional for the winner.
While there are no doubt some who were so willfully blind as to believe that there was the remotest chance of succeeding, if even for the blatantly cynical reason that justices had been bought by Trump and would do his bidding no matter what, most of these officials aren’t so foolish and ignorant as to believe there was any merit to the claims or any hope of success. They knew it was doomed, yet backed it anyway, willing to burn down the most significant feature of the American experiment, the peaceful transition of power.
This isn’t really about Mr. Trump anymore. He lost, and his ruinous tenure will soon be over. This is now about the corruption of a political party whose leaders are guided by the fear of Mr. Trump rather than the love of this country — and who are falling into dangerous habits.
Some contend that the attorneys general and representatives who back this idiocy knew it would fail, fully expected it to fail, and did so only to create the appearance of being supportive for the sake of Trump’s unduly passionate base. Essentially, no harm, no foul, since this would ultimately change nothing as it was just loony nonsense to begin with. That would leave these “joiners” with the appreciation of Trump supporters while doing nothing to change the ultimate outcome of the election, which they knew to be a foregone conclusion.
To be clear, being cynical is not the same as being stupid. Most knew it was doomed with absolute certainty. They did it anyway. Most knew the damage this would do to governance. They did it anyway. Most knew and did it anyway.
That’s too hard to swallow. While it’s hardly insurrection to engage in litigation, whether as litigant or amici, as courts are the mechanism by which we resolve disputes under the Constitution, the effort did two unforgivable things: it undermined our faith in the electoral process and it demonstrated a lack of integrity so flagrant as to be unsalvageable.
There is good reason to desire some purple in government as a check on the potential excesses of the progressive wing of the Democrats. One might hope that we could have a government of people of reason and good will, with differing views on how best to serve a nation but with a shared willingness to find a way to do exactly that. But given the polarized state of politics, this isn’t our status. Instead, the best we can hope for is a government that doesn’t do too much structural damage to the nation until the fringes go silent. When and if that happens is unclear.
But what can be made of the Republican Party that didn’t stand up and say no, this Trumpian idiocy must end and we will not be party to supporting this vulgar, amoral, deceitful ignoramus anymore?
They can now demonstrate a modicum of their professed patriotism by mustering the courage to say these simple words: “Congratulations, President-elect Biden.”
It’s an odd and uncomfortable place to find oneself less willing to let it go than the New York Times editorial board, but I do. Expectations of integrity in politics are, at best, minimal, but they remain minimal. Here, the attorneys general and House Republicans have forfeited any and all integrity. They bet their souls and lost.
Integrity, once lost, is lost forever. And they squandered it for Trump, of all people.
There is no reasonable expectation that Donald Trump will suddenly discover grace and concede defeat. He’ll never be that big a person. It’s not in him. As for the rest of them, they made their choice, and they should be forced to live with it.
*Some misguided dolts believe that Justices Alito and Thomas were sending some secret message by adding in their own statement. They were not. Rather, they were noting a procedural disagreement relating to whether there is discretion in denying leave in a case of original jurisdiction. They are of the view that the Court must grant leave, and so they would, and thereupon would deny relief.