Imagine Donald Trump giving a gracious concession speech if he had lost the Electoral College, but won more popular votes. You can’t.
Hillary Clinton’s call for unity and peace in the face of her defeat is in line with the best of American political traditions. The call is, rightly, echoed by other public officials, analysts, and everyday Americans on social media.
It is the only response if we want to live in a democratic system under the rule of law.
In any other year, we might casually accept the call and move on.
And yet, just consider what it is we’re asking some of our fellow Americans to do.
Muslim-Americans had their legitimacy as citizens questioned. He called for banning fellow Muslims from the country. He said he saw thousands of them cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. He attacked the Muslim parents of a fallen American soldier.
Mexican-Americans have been called rapists and drug dealers by our new President. He questioned whether an Indiana-born judge could be fair in ongoing court proceedings because of his Mexican heritage.
African-Americans have watched the popular masses, their fellow citizens, elevate to the presidency the leader of the racist birther lie. The man who began his career denying housing to black people is now in charge of federal housing policy.
Americans with disabilities watched our new President mock and belittle a person with arthrogryposis, a chronic condition that impacts joints and movements.
Women heard our new President brag about sexual assault, heard him objectify them over and over during the past year.
Jewish Americans watched the horrific use of neo-Nazi imagery on social media by our new President.
And so, just two days after popularly electing this man, we are told to put all of this behind us.
Not so fast.
While we must be cognizant of the ill effects of disunity, violence, and attacks on the peaceful transition of power, we should not mask the great offense that has impacted our country.
The President-elect is a bully who denigrates women, minorities, those with disabilities and those who have deigned to speak out against him. He is an authoritarian and a man of ill temper who surrounds himself with men of rage, bigots, and inciters.
I hope people will come together out of reverence for our Constitution and the promise of the nation. But we should recognize that what we’re being asked to do is the very thing that the President-elect and his people refused to do at all: respect our fellow citizens. We are being asked to be the type of American he has never been.
Showing respect for the Presidency when the President is a man who does not deserve it because he has done nothing to earn it, is a difficult needle to thread.
But before we exhort our fellow citizens to “respect the results” we would do well to understand why many are having trouble doing so.