You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

POINT OF VIEW: The damage being inflicted by this election


This presidential election was initially entertaining, but is now infuriating and ugly. But what will things look like the day after the election?

We should be concerned about the damage that this election is inflicting on our democratic institutions — and focus on how to repair them.

This campaign seems to have been more about the character and fitness of the candidates for the presidency than their ideas for governing the country.

On Dec. 13, 2000, after the most prolonged, and perhaps the most rancorous battle for the presidency in American history, then-Vice President Al Gore came before the nation to announce that:

”Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States … I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed…. I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.”

Vice President Gore’s remarks were not surprising. The recognition that, at some point, country is elevated over partisanship had always been part of the partisan battle.

But it is increasingly hard to imagine that the loser of the 2016 presidential election will be saying “I congratulate our president-elect; we need to accept the legitimacy of this election and work with the new administration.”

The fact that this is hard to imagine now is evidence of long-term damage this election is inflicting on our democracy.

And it is getting worse as one candidate whips up his supporters with fears that the election results may be “rigged” and the election stolen. At rallies in Pennsylvania, Trump has urged his supporters to visit polling locations in “certain areas” and make sure no “cheating goes on.”

The media is an easy target for blame, but it is too simplistic to claim that this is all concocted by a mass media that is only interested in selling ad space, building ratings or entertaining its audience. You can’t expect the media to ignore the outrageous claims or embarrassing mistakes that candidates make during their campaigns.

What does this mean for January, when somebody is supposed to get down to the business of governing?

For nearly the entirety of our nation’s history, our democracy has involved the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to those newly elected. Have we turned a corner in American politics, never to recover the “after the people have had their say, it’s country over party” days again or is 2016 an aberration?

A handshake snub at a debate may be the least of our concerns if we have to deal with a greater breakdown of civility when this is all over.

HOWARD L. SIMON, MIAMI

Editor’s note: Howard L. Simon is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Palm Beach Post editorial cartoon: Jan. 17
Palm Beach Post editorial cartoon: Jan. 17

CARTOON VIEW JACK OHMAN
Letters: GOP does not intend to replace ACA

Senator Marco Rubio voted “yea” on the bill that has been dubbed the “Repeal Resolution” by the GOP members of the Senate Budget Committee. This bill actually does nothing to repeal the Affordable Care Act. However, per the committee, the bill contains language that includes “reconciliation instructions to authorizing...
POINT OF VIEW Airbnb threatens Florida B&Bs, endangers consumers

The owners of many local bed and breakfast inns initially viewed Airbnb optimistically as an exciting new marketing platform. Unfortunately, hope quickly gave way to reality as licensed “mom-and-pop” businesses found themselves deluged with unlawful operators on Airbnb and similar sites, often operating in residential areas. This goes well...
Letters Time to disagree on election is over
Letters Time to disagree on election is over

The people have spoken. The results are in, people have expressed their free will and have chosen a new president. It is past the time to disagree. That time was on Nov. 8 at the polls. I find it abhorrent to see people using mob behavior to object to the result. All these malcontents had their right to select who they wanted to lead the country. MIKE...
Editorial: County IG deserves better than cold shoulder from cities
Editorial: County IG deserves better than cold shoulder from cities

When Elliot Cohen was West Palm Beach’s spokesman, who took him to task for holding a side job with a contractor that did business with the city and for using his position to solicit outside publicity work? The Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General, that’s who. And who judged that Palm Beach Gardens violated the law when it failed...
More Stories