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Editorial: America will be fine, no matter who won, or when we know — with one caveat

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Congratulations to the winners of Tuesday's elections — whoever they turn out to be. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Happy day after the election.

We’re writing this editorial not knowing for sure who won … anything. And we’re doing that deliberately to make this point: Our nation, our state, our communities, our people are bigger and stronger than Donald Trump or Joe Biden or any other candidate, regardless of how much we love or hate that candidate. 

And this point: The only way the nation won’t be just fine is if we become the awful people you’d think we all are if you spend too much time watching cable “news” networks or hanging out on Twitter. If we abandon all of our values and all of our goodness in the mistaken belief that it is essential that our preferred candidates win, or that we know who the winners are immediately.

None of that is essential.

What is essential is that all of us remember that the foundations of our constitutional republic are strong, and that no candidate for any office is bad enough to break them. It is essential that we continue to respect the rule of law and the electoral process and practice patience and insist that all the votes are counted, and reject attempts to shortcut the process. It is essential that we remember that counting the votes will take longer than usual in many states this year, because of all the absentee ballots.

It is essential that we respect the rights of our fellow citizens to join in peaceful demonstrations, and don’t label those demonstrations riots unless they degenerate into actual riots, where property is destroyed or people are injured. It’s equally essential that we reject violence, threats and even petty crimes by people who are upset about the outcomes — or who hope to change the outcomes after the fact.

It’s also essential that once all the votes are counted and the legal challenges have run their course, we accept the results of the race for president and for all the other contests. Even if we don't like the results. We shouldn't give up our voices and silently accept policies that the winners try to impose. But we should respect the fact that the winners won, and work through the democratic process to influence their policies and change the results at the next election.

You know, the things we’ve taken for granted in pretty much every election up until this one.

And here’s a thought: What if the elected officials try to find policies they can agree on — all of them, all across the political spectrum — and try to reach compromises where they can’t agree, rather than demonizing those with whom they disagree?

What if all of us support their efforts to do that, rather than labeling them traitors to the cause?

What if we model that behavior ourselves, in the way we interact with others?

What if we start by congratulating the winners and vowing to respect their victory even if it disappoints us, and vowing to look for points of agreement and be honest and constructive in our disagreements?

In that spirit, we congratulate the person who will be president for the next four years, whether that’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden. We congratulate the person who will represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate, whether that’s Lindsey Graham and Jaime Harrison. We congratulate the person who will represent us in the 1st Congressional District, whether that’s Joe Cunningham or Nancy Mace, and the people who will represent South Carolina from the six other districts. We congratulate all of the people who won election to the S.C. Legislature and county offices and other offices on the ballot. We thank you for being willing to serve our nation, our state and our communities. You have important work to do.

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