For a few minutes Sunday, folks got the idea that Donald Trump had conceded the election to Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
“He won because the Election was Rigged,” the president tweeted Sunday morning.
Twitter added a note disputing the president’s claim about election fraud, but for many observers, the key to the message was in those first two words.
It wasn’t long, though, before the president threw cold water on the celebration.
“He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA,” the president tweeted. “I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”
Actually, that’s not true. Election officials from both political parties have assured Americans that the president’s claims are unfounded.
Of course, standing up for the integrity of the election can be hazardous. Just ask Christopher Krebs, who lost his job as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency after saying there was no evidence to support the president’s claim that a voting system had “deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
To his credit, the president-elect has made clear he won’t wait for a formal concession before beginning preparations to assume his new position. There’s much to be done before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
In the meantime, the president and many of his supporters deny reality to the detriment of our country.
To be clear, this election wasn’t close.
As it now stands, the president-elect leads in the Electoral College by a margin of 306 to 232, the same margin Trump called a landslide four years ago.
And unlike the president in that election, Biden also won the popular vote. The votes are still being counted, but on Thursday, the margin was approaching 6 million votes, roughly twice the advantage Hillary Clinton rung up in 2016.
To change the result, the president would have to reverse vote totals in at least three states, and he’s not close to doing that.
It’s not surprising, of course, that the president might stretch the truth. He’s done that so often we’ve come to expect it.
The sad fact is, though, that many of his supporters believe his claims. They think there’s actually a chance he’ll one day be declared the winner of this election.
That isn’t going to happen, and it’s long past time that Republican leaders halted the charade. The president lost this election. He needs to face that reality.