President-elect Joe Biden: On behalf of our Republican congressional delegation, please accept Idaho’s warm and heartfelt congratulations upon being elected the 46th president of the United States.
In the week that’s gone by, only a handful of Republicans — including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have defied their party and President Donald Trump by acknowledging your victory.
Yet the outcome is beyond the reach of any recount. Even in the five battleground states you flipped, the margin has exceeded 242,000 votes. Your majority in the Electoral College is unassailable. The popular vote gives you an edge of 5 million and growing.
There is no evidence of fraud.
The longer the vanquished delay in conceding this election, the more dire the consequences. It breeds contempt for America’s democratic process — especially among Republicans who are falling for the conspiracy theories alleging that rather than being merely disappointing, this election is somehow illegitimate. That’s ironic given that they have accepted the results of an election that gave their party gains in the House and probably preserved the GOP majority in the Senate.
It presents our adversaries with opportunities to exploit an unsettled transition. And it could create a national security crisis. When the 2000 election results were delayed by almost a month due to the recount in Florida, it left incoming President George W. Bush with less time to prepare — and the 9/11 Commission later concluded it may explain his administration’s failure to stop the terrorist attacks.
So far, however, none of that has influenced our delegation.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, seems to be playing for time: “Counting every legal vote is vital to our nation’s core principles. The integrity of our election process is equally imperative, and the courts should resolve any alleged improprieties. I have faith in the democratic process and my fellow Americans to accept the final, certified results.”
Not surprisingly, the more partisan Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, is mimicking Trump: “Every legal vote must be counted and every nonlegal vote eliminated. Claims of irregularities must be fully examined and then decided by the courts, based on the evidence presented. Loss of confidence in the electoral system would be catastrophic for our country.”
Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, is following the same path: “If steps aren’t taken now to ensure voting processes are legal, secure and trustworthy, the rights of every American will be violated and future elections are jeopardized.”
So far, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, — who has a reputation for bucking the party line — has said nothing one way or the other.
We Idahoans voted for Trump, but we are loyal Americans who believe the peaceful transfer of power is what makes this nation the shining “city on a hill.”
So from Crapo, we anticipate to ultimately hear something like this: “Mr. President-elect, let me extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes. I well remember the 10 years we shared in the U.S. Senate. Let us move forward in doing the work for the country we both love. Wishing you every success.”
We want Risch to express this sentiment: “While I supported the other guy and agreed with his vision for the future, he lost and you won. Let me extend my sincere congratulations. As a former governor, I understand the immense burdens that come with serving as a chief executive. I look forward to working with you in the best interests of my state and our country.”
We believe it would be within Fulcher’s character to simply say: “While the past two years have been marked by partisan recriminations, I take hope in your ‘pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States. And work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you.’ In that spirit, I extend my congratulations and best wishes.”
And finally, from Simpson — who is beginning his 12th term in the U.S. House and will serve under his fifth president — we expect to hear some perspective: “Congratulations upon a well-earned electoral victory. I trust that your administration offers this country what it so badly needs — a return to regular order and the promise that Republicans will join with Democrats to seek the common ground that has eluded us for so long.”
Why they haven’t spoken before now is for them to explain. Until then, allow us to fill in the blanks. — M.T.