Politically, America could not be split more evenly, or have a wider chasm down the middle. But at the top, our presidents know the top job has to enjoy a peaceful transition,
President Obama called on Americans to support President-elect Trump, and said he’s “rooting for his success in leading and unifying the country.”
“One thing you realize in this job is that the presidency — or the vice presidency — is bigger than all of us,” Obama said, standing beside Vice President Joe Biden in his first public remarks since Trump won an astounding victory in one of the most divisive campaigns in memory.
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But we have to remember that we are all on the same team,” Obama said. “This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re Americans first. We’re patriots first.”
In China and Russia, power is transferred by back-room deals, intrigue and truly rigged elections where everyone is required to vote, and there’s only one candidate on the ballot. In many other countries, power is transferred by military coup or assassination.
In countries with a parliamentary system, representatives are assigned to their constituencies by the party apparatus. Governments are formed by private meetings of power brokers, and sometimes they simply collapse from no-confidence votes, triggering immediate elections.
In the U.S., we undergo enormous, seismic shifts in our leadership with nary more than a few protests. Since Barack Obama took office, Democrats have lost 910 seats in state legislatures, loss of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington, D.C., and 30 state legislatures.
Obama’s record for losses, at least through the 2014 midterms, is historically bad having overseen two horrible midterm elections for Democrats. Overall, [University of Virginia political expert Larry] Sabato wrote, Democrats during Obama’s presidency lost 11 governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 913 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers. (Our analysis of legislative seats is off from Sabato’s by three. The small discrepancy is likely due to run-offs and recounts.)
The shedding of U.S. House seats, state legislative seats and statehouse control is at least twice the average two-term losses from Truman through George W. Bush, Sabato said.
And now Democrats have lost the White House to the most controversial figure to win the presidency since Andrew Jackson. On January 20th, Barack Obama will follow the tradition of prior presidents and leave a note for Donald Trump.
During his last moments in the Oval Office, former President Ronald Reagan scribbled a note for his successor on a notepad with a turkey insignia that said “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” He, too, slipped the note in the presidential desk for his successor, President George H.W. Bush.
Four years after that, the elder Bush left a note for President Bill Clinton. And eight years after that, Clinton wrote a note for Mr. Bush, and included a copy of the message he had received from Mr. Bush’s father.
There will be no conspiracy to keep Trump from taking power. There will be no troops in the street, or UN “peacekeepers” interfering with our elections. And though the Russians and Wikileaks messed with us, we don’t see President Obama urging some kind of emergency or electoral revolt.
And that’s what makes America the greatest country in the world–that political enemies can stand together and say “we are all on the same team.” And mean it.