“Keeping Us In Suspense”

Many years ago, I ran a political blog called “Crablaw” about politics and law, with a non-exclusive focus on Maryland. It was enjoyable at a time in my life when a lot of things were not so enjoyable. I forget the exact number of posts but all in all, over several years, it ran about 1500 posts +/-.

This webdomain, brucegodfrey.com, has not served as a primarily poltiical vehicle. For the most part, this site has been either a professional or at least professionally topical site. It previously served as the front-facing portal for my law practice, and in its recent “Working Scribe” incarnation has been an occasional topical blog on matters relating to the law and the practice of law. But recent events go beyond quotidian politics.

I am 47; my first political memory was going into the voting booth (old-school mechanical one) in Annapolis with my mother at age 7. I stayed up late to watch a small amount of the election results when Jimmy Carter won out a narrow victory over President Ford. I have never voted for a Republicsn for president; most of my adult life I have been leaned Libertarian (registered or at least sympathetic) but did vote for Senator Obama in 2008 when the LP put up Bob Barr and Wayne Root.

Patriotic sentiment is quite common in the US, so much so that it surprises Americans that citizens of other countries have a more complex relationship with national pride or patriotism. Except possibly in international soccer matches, Germans generally don’t talk about how great Germany is or “making Germany great again”; German history and how modern Germany has dealt with its own history make that pretty much out of play. Texans proudly fly the flag of Texas but the red and white flag of England is perceived as a racist, xenophobic banner within Britain by some. We Americans tend often to take our patriotic sentiment and expression for granted.

For me, it’s a matter of some pride but more ingrained as part of my identity beyond “pride” or bluster. This is the only country I have. While my ancestors came from central and northern Europe, Ireland, and Britain, I am too far removed from any of them to be eligible for citizenship there: four grandparents born here. Canada doesn’t want attorneys from the US. Israel has a law of return for Jews but I am not Jewish. This country is it; it’s the only place that will have me and the only place I consider home, warts and all.

So it would be nice for me if the elected officials and aspirants to elected office refrained from blowing a hole in the bottom of the boat.

Not as a Libertarian registered voter or as a supporter of Governor Gary Johnson, but as an American citizen with two disabled kids who calls no other land home anywhere, I think it’s terrible that a candidate for public office would play games publicly with the issue of whether he will accept the results of a national election. It’s tantamount to calling the legitimacy of the entire republic into question. While it’s one thing to reserve all rights under applicable law (recounts, ballot challenges, etc.), it’s another prospectively to cast doubt on an election, knowing one is going to lose.

We don’t need “suspense” games; we need an orderly transition of administration from the Obama administration to whomever the voters pick through the ELectoral College. Even Al Gore, who had a half-way decent argument about Florida 16 years ago, ultimately had the character to recognize that the republic needed to get beyond the election. That act should rank with the Cincinnatus-like refusal of George Washington to run for a third term in the history of statesmanship, regardless of Senator Gore’s precise motives.

Republics are robust, but not infinitely so. Our Constitution is a mighty achievement, but so were the Great Library of Alexandria and the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

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