Editorial: Let the new era value compromise over conflict

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

The news came on a Saturday, which is appropriate. It is not the day that we gather to sing “Hallelujah,” but you can see it from here.

In some ways, that is where America stands right now. The day is drawing closer to when the country begins to heal, but it is not yet here. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris inherit a country that has many problems to work through. Remember, a ballot has never solved a problem, but rather has only created a plan to do so.

A raging pandemic, a wounded economy, racial unrest and a world confused about American power and priorities are among some of the more daunting challenges facing the new administration. But the election has confirmed another problem, which may trump them all.

It is indeed a true and powerful fact that Biden has won more votes than any other presidential candidate in history. However, Donald Trump has won more votes than any losing presidential candidate in history. Also, true and powerful.

The problem isn’t that more than 70 million Americans voted to reelect the president. The problem is the other half of the country continually will say that it is. We can’t for the next four years hang a cloud of shame over the heads of half of the voting population of America and expect for the country to become a healthier place. That cloud will produce far worse than thunder.

We must do the hard work of coming together as a country, and that may require us to separate our feelings for Trump supporters from the man himself. The fact is, America is a big country that has room for a variety of ideas. Yes, there are points that can’t be compromised. But surely some can. As this page has said before: Differences don’t have to equate to disdain.

The president, however, will make the work to be done more difficult. It will be a surprise if President Trump ever concedes the election. He is not required to give any such speech. He is only required to leave. And that indeed will happen, for it will be an even larger surprise if the U.S. justice system, including the Supreme Court, takes any action to change the ultimate outcome of this election. The justices are smart people. They understand a 6 to 3 tally can’t be the pivotal one in this election.

Yet, the president could do much to help heal the country with a traditional concession speech. As one network analyst said on Saturday morning, the concession speech is the final dose of anesthetic before the sutures are applied to the wound left from a hard-fought election.

It appears that the stitches are going to be painful, but we will get through it. Hopefully, we will do so with Trump supporters not only urging their candidate to concede, but more importantly seeing to a peaceful transfer of power. As noted earlier, there are some points that can’t be compromised. This is one of them.

The two sides of this election should use this occasion to strike an early bargain. Biden supporters should agree to not paint all 70 million-plus Trump supporters as racists and fascists, and Trump supporters should agree to fully support America’s greatest contribution to the world: free and fair elections, which the courts soon will confirm is what we’ve had.

And, then, how wonderful would it be if that is the first of many such deals the two sides can reach. The country desperately needs a period where we value compromise over conflict. It is too early to know whether we are entering such a period. But it now appears we have a man entering the White House who truly wants it.

For that, warm up your singing voices with a healthy ‘amen’ — appropriate on any and every day of the week.

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