At press time on the afternoon of Nov. 8, we don’t yet know the outcome of the presidential election, or any of the many local, state and national contests between candidates and between ideas. Colorado ballot measures on a single-payer health-care system, changes to how the state constitution can be amended, the right to die, tobacco taxation and more face an unknown fate — at least for a few more brief hours.
Ditto for local measures on school-district funding measures, arts and cultural programs, soda taxes and on and on.
But we’re confident that local and statewide races — including the Senate battle between Michael Bennet and Darryl Glenn — will end with little acrimony on either side. Victors will rejoice, and losers will concede, wonder where they went wrong and go about their business. Passage — or not — of state and local ballot measures will not produce riots in the streets.
We’re not so sure, however, about the outcome of the presidential election. Should Donald Trump prevail, will those who opposed him reconcile to his victory and work with him to ensure the most stable and best possible outcome for the next four years?
Should Hillary Clinton be elected, will Trump supporters discard allegations of corruption and support the new administration, or will the next four years be filled with hearings on email scandals, et al?
Will both sides find room for compromise to actually accomplish legislation for the good of the nation, or will we face four years of obstruction by either Democrats or Republicans?
Will supports of the losing side riot in the streets? Will the loser even concede defeat?
This presidential contest arguably has been the most divisive in modern history — at least since the Vietnam War. It’s also been the nastiest, possibly since Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, was accused during the contest with John Quincy Adams of being a bigamist.
Our nation was supposed to have evolved beyond such personal attacks, but the tenor of the 2016 race instead will go down as one of the nastiest contests since the founding of the Republic.
It has done nothing to raise the esteem of the United States among friends, and it’s harmed our moral standing with adversaries.
Yet we can still show the world how to turn division into unity, if Trump and Clinton — and their followers — show grace and humility in victory or defeat.