The peaceful transition of government between presidents, and particularly between presidents of opposing parties, is the most critical underpinning of our republic—it’s what holds us together as a nation, however bitterly fought elections might be. And right now, they’re about as bitter as they’ve been since the Civil War. Every day in which two-time popular vote-losing impeached lame duck Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge his loss, and every day in which a Republican Party now led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows him to keep up this fraudulent fight, is a day that’s more dangerous to the country as a whole.
That makes what former President George W. Bush did Sunday crucial. The previously worst president the nation has suffered in the modern era called President-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his victory, acknowledging that this was a free and fair election and that the results must be accepted. Then he released a statement to say so. “I just talked to the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden,” the statement reads. “I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night. I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency. Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
That might be the most consequential action—in a positive way—Bush has taken in his public life. That McConnell has yet to do the same, and is thus encouraging Trump to continue to try to rend the country apart, is just as consequential. And extremely dangerous.
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