Al, concede defeat for your dignity and future

SAN DIEGO (U-Wire) — Al, take the high road and concede defeat. It’ll be better for the country. It’ll be better for you personally.
Listen to your fellow Democrats. Former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) has said that if the disputed election drags on much longer, a nationwide feeling of disgust will accompany it. Sen. Bob Kerry (D-Neb.) said that even though one of the candidates will harbor serious doubts about the election, one of them should concede defeat for the sake of the country.
Be that candidate, Al. Call off the dogs. Don’t back the lawsuits spreading throughout Florida like a plague of boll weevils. Stand before the American people and gracefully accept the election results without challenging them. Your stature will grow. You’ll gain more from losing with grace than you will from winning through the courts.
I know it will be hard to concede defeat. The presidency was your life-long dream and you might never get another shot at it. Although ambition and I waved good-bye to each other a long time ago, I imagine to give up now must be heartwrenching. It’s especially tough knowing that things might have gone your way if not for some quirks in the Florida voting system.
Your opponent came away with a 327-vote lead out of 6 million-plus votes cast in Florida. A confusing butterfly ballot disoriented the citizens of Palm Beach County so much that 19,000 of them nullified their votes by voting for two candidates.
Moreover, some of the citizens who actually managed to restrain themselves from punching holes all over their ballots accidentally cast their votes for Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. Your opponents have downplayed the Florida anomalies saying, in effect, there isn’t a discernible difference between the voting patterns there from the last election to this election, so it doesn’t matter.
But you know it does matter. If only a few hundred votes will decide the presidency, then the thousands of questioned votes matter a lot. Buchanan, the beneficiary of the Palm Beach votes, conceded that the ballot was very confusing, and he believes he received votes meant for you. That alone could have cost you the presidency.
I can see why you want to fight it Al, but it’s a losing battle. If you fight and lose, you lose not only the election but also your political future. Learn from Richard Nixon’s experience. Nixon lost the 1960 election by a mere 118,000 votes. He had a strong reason to suspect voting fraud occurred in Texas, the home state of Kennedy’s vice-presidential candidate, and Illinois, the stronghold of political boss Richard Daley. He chose not to contest the election. In his memoirs, Nixon stated that a challenge would have taken too long, and it would have hurt his political career because he would have been tagged “a sore loser.”
Don’t be that sore loser, Al.
If you fight and win, you will still lose. It will be a Pyrrhic victory. The majority of the people will not support you. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was right when he told reporters that the next president is going to come into office under a very, very large dark cloud.
Think about the situation, Al. The Republican majority was narrowed in both the Senate and the House. The next president will come into office without a clear mandate from the people. This is a recipe for a one-term administration bound to mire in political gridlock.
Don’t play the game, Al. Stand above it. Both Democrats and Republicans have looked petty when haggling over the legitimacy of the contested votes. Republicans are now threatening to demand recounts in New Mexico and Iowa. While the Democrats are highlighting the improprieties of the Florida contest, the Republicans are engaging in massive spin control. Meanwhile, citizens are becoming increasingly turned off by the unfolding events.
See the big picture, Al. Take the time off to refine your program and reach out to the American people. Be gracious and respectful. You will gain so much more support simply by being humble and dignified. Humility in politics, like in professional sports, is rapidly disappearing. People will respond positively to you if you genuinely reach out to them.
Let the people know how much it meant to you to be president, but that you will back down because the interests of your country come first. Praise your opponent for running a hard, clean race. Speak positively about the election. Save the bitterness for private moments. Just because you concede the presidency doesn’t mean your dream is dead. Nixon came back to win in 1968.
You can come back, too.
The good book says that the meek shall inherit the Earth. Al, if you play your cards right, the humble might eventually inherit the White House.

Michael Graffman’s column originally ran in San Diego State University’s The Daily Aztec on Nov. 14. Send comments to [email protected]