A kid from Snowflake, Ariz., doesn’t often get to witness such history, and so I kept a journal:
The family flew home on Friday afternoon. I had to stay until Saturday afternoon because the House and Senate met in joint session to count electoral votes. Given the disputed election, there were fears that the Democrats would try to pull something. A dozen or so House Democrats did object to the Florida electoral votes, but because they failed to get any Senate Democrats to sign on with them, they failed to thwart the proceedings. It was quite a spectacle nonetheless. Vice President Al Gore, who presided over this historic meeting, was forced to call the game for his opponent, George W. Bush. I met Gore afterward, who had to be feeling pretty rotten to have won the popular vote but to have lost in the Electoral College.
One thing I left out of my journal entry was that in affirming that his opponent, George W. Bush, would be our next president, Mr. Gore said this: “May God bless our new president and new vice president, and may God bless the United States of America.”
Mr. Gore’s was an act of grace that the American people had every right to expect of someone in his position, a testament to the robustness and durability of American constitutional democracy. That he was merely doing his job and discharging his responsibility to the Constitution is what made the moment both profound and ordinary.
Vice President Mike Pence must do the same today. As we are now learning, a healthy democracy is wholly dependent on the good will and good faith of those who offer to serve it.
Today, the American people deserve to witness the majesty of a peaceful transfer of power, just as I saw, awe-struck, two decades ago. Instead, we find ourselves in this bizarre condition of our own making, two weeks from the inauguration of a new president, with madness unspooling from the White House, grievous damage to our body politic compounding daily.
My fellow Republicans, as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of Georgia has shown us this week, there is power in standing up to the rank corruptions of a demagogue. Mr. Trump can’t hurt you. But he is destroying us.
Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake), a former Republican senator from Arizona, is the author of “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.”