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Columnists

Congratulations, President-Elect Biden, but Shame on the American Media

On December 14, as is the case every four years on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December, a president of the United States is elected. A majority of electors voted for Joe Biden, who is now president-elect. In a year unlike any other in memory, Covid impacted just about every aspect of life imaginable, including a presidential election. Even as President Trump strongly rejected the election results and, as of this writing continues to do so, the main story, incredibly did not seem to be the presidency, but rather the development of Covid vaccines just as the nation and the world winced as another spike in cases unfolded.

Nonetheless, there is a great deal that needs to be said so that we do not experience this type of debacle again.

1. Joe Biden is President-Elect

The 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was one of the most controversial in modern history. The U.S. Supreme Court finally put an end to Florida recounts just a few days before the electors would vote. Gore conceded shortly thereafter, which helped to somewhat begin the healing process of a divided nation, but was not officially relevant. In the ensuing 20 years, I’ve taught about that election to thousands of college students. It is one of the extremely rare instances when I put forth my own theory, which is that when elections that that close, there are bound to be numerous factors that lead to inaccurate results, and, like it or not, we’ll never really know who won, for sure. However, the second part of my theory is that we can’t simply exist in limbo without acknowledging a winner just because we have some doubt. In the case of Biden v. Trump, more electors voted for Biden. Regardless of whether Trump concedes, Biden is now president-elect, and barring some earth-shattering phenomenon, will be sworn in on January 20 as the 46th president of the United States.

2. It Was Wrong to Call Biden President-Elect Prematurely

We have become conditioned to believe that presidents are elected on Election Day, TV networks tell us who the winner is, and that’s that. Usually, that has proven accurate, and the official election – conducted by the electors – is a mere formality. That’s because with rare exception, the Democrat and the Republican combined draw almost all of the vote, with minor parties and independents combining to account for the remaining sliver, and either on election night or the next day, the runner-up concedes. Therefore, calling the winner “president-elect” at that point is reasonable. In 2000, Al Gore did not concede until six weeks after the election, and as of this writing, Trump hasn’t conceded either. Yet almost all of the media jumped to declare Biden “president-elect” right away, whereas those same publications and news programs did no such thing in 2000 vis-à-vis Bush. Shame on the media for doing that. They should have waited until either Trump conceded or the electors voted, and not a moment earlier. To make matters worse, in true Stepford form they called Trump’s claims of fraud and voter error “baseless” and showed utter disrespect for the office. It doesn’t matter how much merit there is to Trump’s argument, it’s up to the news media to report it, not to tell us what they think about it. That a sitting president has been treated so shabbily is a travesty. For shame.

3. Congratulate and Accept President Biden

What happens now? Is Trump really out of miracles? Will the Hunter Biden scandal affect his father? Is it really over? It doesn’t matter. We don’t elect presidents based on what might happen later on. So, Congratulations, President-Elect Biden! I wish you good health and good luck. Believe me, I am no less disappointed now than were so many people on Election Night 2016. To me, that now seems like a beautiful dream of a million years ago, and it saddens me to think that it has been cut short. Nonetheless, here’s what I won’t do: I won’t ever utter the petty, nonsensical “not my president” mantra about Biden. If I do criticize him, I won’t take cheap, petty, disrespectful shots. He’s no longer Joe; he’s weeks away from being the exalted Mr. President. I won’t insist that the election was rigged or that Trump won, because that would be every bit as absurd as those who are positive there was no fraud and absolutely certain that Biden won. It all comes down to the electors anyway, and they all voted by hand, and in person. In fact, that’s the way all of us should be voting. We desperately need election reform in this country, because the way we’re doing it is an embarrassment. I hope Biden leads the way toward making that happen. I also won’t write Biden with a small ‘b’ or use some dopey play on words to make fun of his name (like “Joe Hidin’” – as in hidin’ in his basement).

I don’t expect disgruntled Trump supporters will give Biden much more slack than Hillary supporters gave Trump – except I think the levels of hysteria will be lower. But will Trump supporters really call Biden their president? Some will, but not as many as should.

This is where I go back to writing about – and defending – a president I didn’t vote for. It’s nothing new, I’ve been down this road before. Now, there’s plenty of time to analyze this election, because so many things about it continue to baffle me. Every other presidential election I’ve ever followed made sense. This one has thrown me for a loop. That doesn’t mean that I think the election was stolen, but I also don’t ignore some very strange irregularities that much of the media, in its continued journalistic malpractice, has swept under the rug. However, just as none of the 2000 election’s hanging and dimpled chads were George W. Bush’s fault, neither should Biden be blamed for this year’s peculiarities. As I accepted Bush in 2000, I accept Biden now. And it would be good for our country if everyone else did too.

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