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Looking for a return to normalcy


Every two years, those running for office tell us this will be the most important election of our lives, and I always roll my eyes and mumble, maybe for you.

This year’s election, which starts with early voting Oct. 11, is pretty darned important, and not for who will win control of the House, Senate and other elected positions. This year’s election is important simply for the sake of elections themselves.

In 1896, losing Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan started a tradition that would serve our nation well for the next century: the concession speech. It was a practice he would be required to repeat in 1900 and 1908.

Every losing candidate since then has acknowledged defeat and, more important, urged their supporters to rally behind the new leader for the common good of the nation. Al Gore temporarily withdrew his concession in 2000, but after the Supreme Court ruling he told the nation, “I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of the country.”

That was after what was by far the closest election of my life, decided by the results in Florida, which was still using an antiquated punch-card voting system that made complete accuracy an impossibility.

As we all know, the last losing presidential candidate did not concede; he incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol instead. Since then, his enablers in Congress and state legislatures throughout the nation have constantly chipped away at the integrity of our electoral system.

Unable to provide any evidence of actual fraud, they have invented fantastical conspiracy theories involving Hugo Chavez, the Vatican and a search for traces of bamboo in the ballots.

The former president’s more sober supporters aren’t trying to peddle the crazy stuff, but they insist there were “irregularities and abnormalities” in the 2020 election.

And they’re right.

I’m a perfect example of that. The 2020 election was the only one in my life where I voted by mail instead of in person. That’s both irregular and abnormal. It’s also perfectly understandable, given the ongoing pandemic at the time. Like millions of other voters, I was still in my COVID bubble. That’s not proof of election fraud.

There were big changes made in the 2020 election to accommodate the pandemic, and it is fair to go back and review them now to determine if they are still necessary and if they had any effect at all on voter security. But we can’t have an honest discussion about that at the same time so much dishonesty is being spread in an increasingly desperate and pathetic attempt to reject reality.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com

Walt Rubel