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Have faith and patience, democracy will prevail

Everyone just keep calm.

The dread with which the public is approaching this election is unprecedented in modern U.S. history. Many Democrats fear our republic would not survive another four years of President Trump, that it would slide toward tyranny. Many Republicans warn that if Joe Biden takes the presidency and the Democrats Congress it would marshal in a conversion to socialism.

The stakes are high, no question about it. But the republic will survive, as will capitalism. Our constitutional institutions are strong.

If Trump prevails, he could well push the boundaries of executive authority, and the abuse of its power, like no president before him. Arguably, he already has. But the checks and balances built into the Constitution by the Founders are myriad. Four more years would be bad. We are optimistic it would not be fatal. Though, having endorsed Joe Biden, we don’t want to find out.

Republican concerns about a rise of socialism are, well, silly. America will remain firmly grounded in a free-market system. There won’t be any nationalization of corporate America. A debate over the proper role of government in assuring access to health care is not radical or new — the Medicare system is 55 years old. And if Biden and the Democrats did utilize federal resources to dramatically expand renewable energy technology, it would be the private sector building it out. These things are not socialism.

But greater than fears about what may result from this election are anxieties that it will not be a fair one, that one party or the other, one presidential candidate or the other, will cheat their way to victory.

For this, the blame falls fully on the president. Rather than fulfilling his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” he is undermining faith in it.

Trump has claimed that he cannot lose because voters reject him, but rather the “only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” He has falsely implied that ballots are being sent to undocumented immigrants and warned of “massive corruption and fraud.”

None of this has any factual basis, but it could well lead his supporters to buy into post-election claims by Trump that he was cheated and to back any of his attempts to challenge a result other than his re-election.

Democrats, and many unaffiliated and even Republican voters, who do not want a second Trump term are filled with angst that the president will do anything to prevent their early votes — 85 million that had been cast as of Friday — from being counted, particularly in key battleground states that will determine the electoral college winner. Those anxieties are understandable.

Due to the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented number of mail-in votes. This will slow the counting process. Americans, accustomed to typically knowing the results of the presidential race before they go to bed election night, may well have to wait days.

Disgracefully, Trump and the Republican Party seek to exploit this situation for their own benefit. In multiple jurisdictions they have looked to block in court late-arriving ballots. Knowing far more Democrats than Republicans have voted early by mail, and that in some key states those ballots are counted last, Trump wants to stop on Election Day, when preliminary results could show him ahead. Depicting any votes counted later as manufactured — fraudulent — appears to be the Trump strategy.

"Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won't be allowed by the various courts,” he said last week, blithely suggesting that millions of votes should be tossed.

But again, stay calm, and be patient.

Trump can bluster all he wants, but elections are administered by state and local officials, overwhelmingly honest people who believe in democracy and want as fair a count as possible. It may take time, but the nation will get a result.

Yes, there could be appeals to the courts, but they will matter only if a razor-close vote in a state or states could determine which candidate gains the necessary 270 electoral votes.

Far more likely, though it may take time, will be an election result that is clear and beyond any credible challenge.

Don’t panic.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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