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Democracy

President Obama has a message for President Trump. He won't listen, but we should.

President Obama has a message for President Trump. He won't listen, but we should.

We're on day eleventy billion of Donald Trump creating his own alternate reality and convincing millions of people to live there with him, only now it's clearer than ever that it can't continue. President Trump, perhaps for the first time in his life, is hitting a wall he can't con or buy his way through. He lost the 2020 election. His own cybersecurity and election security agencies have said the election was fair and free from widespread fraud. His court cases are being dismissed or dropped left and right. Yet he refuses to acknowledge objective reality, insisting that Democrats cheated (without evidence), insisting he won the election (which he didn't), insisting two plus two doesn't equal four (which his loyal base would believe if he said it).

Trump's reaction to losing the election is a combination of disturbing, sad, predictable, and dangerous. At this point, we can't just brush it off as "Trump being Trump." Trump is president of the United States. His words matter. His tweets matter. His behavior matters. A sitting president delegitimizing the foundation of our democracy matters. It all matters.

Former president Barack Obama has some advice for President Trump, elicited by a question asked of him in a 60 Minutes interview this weekend. Trump will definitely not heed it, but the rest of us should hear it to remind us of what it means to lead this country. When asked, "What is your advice, in this moment, for President Trump?" Obama reminded us of what a president is and what his or her responsibility boils down to.


"A president is a public servant," he said. "They are temporary occupants of the office, by design. And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego and your own interests and your own disappointments. My advice to President Trump is if you want, at this late stage in the game, to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it's time for you to do the same thing."

When asked if it was his view that it was time for Trump to concede, Obama replied, "Absolutely. I think it was time for him to concede the day after the election, or at the latest two days after the election. When you look at the numbers objectively, Joe Biden will have won handily. There is no scenario in which any of those states would turn the other way, and certainly not enough to reverse the outcome of the election."

First of all, let's just take a moment to acknowledge the full, coherent sentences. Never thought that's something we'd need to point out, but here we are. Next, let's appreciate how Obama took the high road here to remind us of our collective relationship with the office of the presidency. He could have called Trump a big ol' diaper baby who is behaving more like a toddler in need of a nap than a president. But that's not Obama's style. Instead, he reminded us that office is bigger than any one person. The person in the office is there to serve us, and when the people have spoken, their job is to abide by the will of the majority.

Here in objective reality, there's no question that Trump lost the election. He's tried to take his fraud claims to court, purportedly to make sure we had a free and fair election, and that's fine. But without evidence—actual evidence, not conspiracy theories about voting machine companies or complaints about the normal process—those lawsuits aren't going anywhere.

Unfortunately, far too many Republican leaders are going along with Trump's delusions, which is really something to witness. Trump's reaction was 100% predictable, and at this point the sycophancy perhaps should be as well, but it's still incredibly disturbing. Not only is it just dumb, it's dangerous to our democracy. The safety and stability of our nation depend on a peaceful transfer of power. There's a process in place for that, and Trump is impeding it.

Some Republicans have begun speaking out as the truth becomes more and more obvious. But the longer they wait, the more ingrained the misinformation becomes in the minds of Trump's base.

It is vital that we state clearly and unequivocally that this is not normal. The president is undermining a free and fair election, period. He's putting American security at risk, period. He's tearing at the fabric of America with his narcissistic delusions of grandeur and inability to admit defeat like a mature adult. And the worst part is that he's convincing millions of Americans to do the same thing.

Enough is enough. The president is a public servant and the public—as in every presidential election prior to this one—has made their choice at the ballot box. It's time to end this embarrassing display right now before more irreparable damage is done.




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