Grace in defeat: Here’s what Trump should say on Nov. 9

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is shown holding a microphone at a 2016 campaign event (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is shown holding a microphone at a 2016 campaign event (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

    In the best of all possible worlds, Donald Trump will man up when the election returns roll in. He will quit blaming everyone and everything (except himself) for his defeat. He will refrain from further trash talk about “fraud.” He will stop implementing Vladimir Putin’s game plan, which has long been designed to delegitimize western democracies from within. He will instead concede with grace and class.

    Right. As if.

    But just in case, he might want to consider saying something like this:

    Moments ago I spoke with Hillary Clinton and congratulated her on becoming president of the United States. I offered to meet as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.

    Almost a century and a half ago, Sen. Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, ‘Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.’ Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Clinton that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless her stewardship of this country.

    Neither she nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy.

    Over the library of one of our great law schools is inscribed the motto: ”Not under man, but under God and law.” That’s the ruling principle of American freedom, the source of our democratic liberties. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified in the Electoral College. And for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.

    I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help her bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.

    This has been an extraordinary election. It can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny. Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in a spirit of reconciliation. So let it be with us.

    I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.

    And I say to our fellow members of the world community: Let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome.

    Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election might hamper the next president in the conduct of office. I do not believe it need be so. I call on all Americans – I particularly urge all who stood with us – to unite behind our next president.

    This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party.

    So said Al Gore on Dec. 13, 2000. I merely inserted Clinton’s name in the passages that referenced Bush.

    Gore had won the popular vote, but lost the election that December night when the Supreme Court’s five Republican appointees halted the Florida recount. Gore could’ve surrendered to anger. He could’ve railed publicly about a “rigged” “fraud.” But he was bigger than that, he put the country first. If Donald Trump can be a fraction as magnanimous on the morning of Nov. 9, if he can at least contrive to mime the spirit (if not the content) of Gore’s concession statement, if he has any grownups in his entourage who are willing to use Gore as a template, then we might just manage to put this addled land on the road to recovery.

    On the other hand, I’m not detecting any evidence of class and grace. This week I see from afar (I’m in London) that Melania Trump is blaming her husband’s sexual assault boasting … on Billy Bush. Apparently the aspiring commander in chief was “egged on” by Billy Bush. Yes, apparently the brilliant leader-dealmaker can be manipulated by the likes of Billy Bush.

    This is useful information. Because if a President Trump were to blunder into World War III, it’s nice to know in advance that Billy Bush goaded him into it.

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

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