Why it’s news when candidates agree to honor election results

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During the fight for the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin discovered what GOP voters wanted to hear: electoral conspiracy theories and skepticism about the integrity of elections.

As regular readers may recall, the former private equity executive launching his first candidacy for elected office, readily played the game. For example, when Youngkin was asked about the bizarre ideas of the far right on the Dominion’s voting machines, the Republican describe this as “the most important question” of the campaign. Asked about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory, Youngkin would not give a direct answer.

At one point, Youngkin’s plan for a “task force” to fight “electoral integrity” was the goal of his campaign. alone meaningful policy proposal.

As the Commonwealth moved into the general election, the GOP candidate tried to sound a little more reasonable on the issue, and during last night’s debate in Virginia – the first one-on-one event between Youngkin and the Former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe – Republican conceded that there was no “significant fraud in the Virginia election” and he does not agree with Donald Trump’s claim that Democrats would cheat in the next election.

In its report on the debate, the Washington Post added this seemingly unimportant detail:

The pair also vowed that if they ultimately lose this year’s election, they will accept the results and recognize the other’s victory.

Granted, the answers were reassuring, and I’m glad McAuliffe and Youngkin answered correctly. What I found extraordinary was the fact that the question was even asked.

I’ve been a political observer for quite a while and couldn’t count how many debates I’ve watched over the years. But during this period, moderators and candidates have traditionally not had to research whether those vying for powerful positions were ready to honor election results. It was just assumed that in the United States, the fundamental norms of our democracy required candidates to accept the verdict of the voters.

But by 2021, that assumption has largely evaporated as much of the Republican Party questions democracy in ways unprecedented in modern times. All of a sudden, “will you accept the election results?” Is an important question voters need to hear the answer to, and one that major newspapers feel the need to report.

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