Say you lost, Mr. President

The promise of a peaceful transition of power is not explicit enough

Photo by Leah Millis, Reuters

As one must already know by now, our nation has just seen a tragic, embarrassing and, unfortunately, quite predictable attack on our very own Capitol. A building that undeniably symbolizes America’s honor, history and unity, was grossly defiled by a group of people who call themselves “patriots.” I personally can’t help but call them a threat—a threat to our republic, a threat to our nation’s founding principles and a threat to the very unity that this country has enjoyed since the end of the Civil War.

On Jan. 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the nation’s Capitol to delay the certification of the election results from 2020, challenging the electoral system and the courts’ decisions to legitimize current results. These people claimed that it is “American” to blindly trust one man instead of an educated judiciary and the very electoral process itself. I call it dictatorship. These people attacked Capitol guards and made a mockery of the people we elect to represent us. In the Civil War, the Confederate Flag only made it as far as Fort Sumter. Now, just a couple days ago, this symbol of disunion, conflict and slavery made it as far as our country’s very own Capitol. Once again, this all occurred while the breachers claimed to be patriots and proud Americans, but when they were putting “Make America Great Again” hats on historical statues and trying to replace American flags with Trump flags, it became clear who they truly were loyal to. 

I couldn’t help but feel outraged and upset when I saw the breach of our Capitol when the news broke. I have personally been to the Capitol twice, and I’ve felt what it’s supposed to stand for. The very building itself oozes history and the great laws and amendments passed within its walls. In fact, the dome that now stands as the centerpiece of the Capitol was constructed during the Civil War, a building that Lincoln said would stand as a sign of the preservation of our Union. A building that has seen the reconciliation of political differences among Senators and Representatives alike for nearly two and a half centuries, the Capitol has become a symbol of our democracy and we have taken pride in the fact that violence never takes place on its grounds. That is, of course, until a violent mob stormed it recently and destroyed windows, lecterns, plaques and left at least five people dead. 

Violence in general has only ever occurred one other time before on Capitol grounds, and that’s when pro-slave representative Preston Brooks decided to hit abolitionist Charles Sumner multiple times in the side of a head with a cane. Back then, the attack on Sumner became an early harrowing of our country’s sharp divide and impending conflict. While I want nothing more than for it to be untrue, I’m afraid the attack on the Capitol has once again revealed the sharp disunion our country is currently wrapped in. 

It sounds cliché at this point, but we truly have reached a certain tipping point in this country. Our House and Senate are more evenly split than ever, and the margins in some states in this year’s election could only be rivaled by Florida’s split in Bush v. Gore. With a 50/50 Senate after the victories of both Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Georgia runoff, the political makeup of many different states is showing potential for radical change. This would, in all honesty, be a fascinating time for politics in America if both sides continued to take pride in our system of peaceful debate, slow and intelligent deliberation and our Constitution’s system of government, yet the recent breach of the Capitol has shown that this may be hard to maintain. This very breach, in fact, was influenced by one of the most powerful men in government at the time: Donald Trump himself.

Of course, I understand the argument that Trump did not directly say “go trespass on federal property and destroy and kill whatever stops you,” but there is absolutely no denying that Trump heated the pot to its boiling point. With constant claims of widespread fraud, the arranging of “stop the steal” protests, and countless efforts both in the courts and in the legislature to halt the certification of Biden’s win, Trump’s actions definitely led the blind supporters of his base to raid the very symbol of our country’s republic and glory. 

The President’s Twitter account, which has since been banned, shows that when people spoke of sending the “cavalry” to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump said he’d be “honored” for it to happen. He also told protestors planning to go to the Capitol to “be wild.” All of this reckless action undeniably was at least a major factor in what happened, and with that there is one thing above all else I believe must happen: He must concede.

When I say concede, I don’t say “promise a peaceful transition” like he did after the riot. I mean he needs to say he lost, fair and square. If he truly cared about this country, its unity and the faith we have long had in our system under the Constitution, he would do so even if he didn’t think he lost. A peaceful transition of power has been a guiding principle of our country since the Election of 1800, and has only truly been challenged when Lincoln was elected in 1860. To threaten our very foundations of government through questioning elections and the decisions of the Supreme Court is to divide it further than it already is in today’s political climate.

This country cannot go on when the current administration continues to question the very system that created it. With a large chunk of the country believing that they can’t even trust elections now, it was only a matter of time until people began to raid the very seat of American democracy. For the greater good of our republic, our Constitution and our faith in this country, concession is the only action that can be made that will make things better before they get worse.