The combination of the timing and the subject of this column is unusual.

The column is being written Monday Nov. 2, 2020, the day before the 2020 national election. This column, about the election, will be read after the polls are closed and most elections, except those few requiring a recount, will be decided.

For the record, at the time of writing the author does not know who has won any election for; School Board Member, County Commissioner, Legislator, Member of Congress, U.S. Senator and of course President.

The author has been engaged in every election since 1972 as a low level volunteer erecting campaign signs, a campaign manager and being a candidate a total of six times.

This just completed election campaign featured some of the worst behavior, by candidates as well as political supporters, the author has ever witnessed.

I have a post election plea to all candidates, both winners and losers: conduct yourself graciously in the finest tradition of American electoral politics.

If you lost, respect your victorious opponent. Offer your congratulations, and most importantly encourage your supporters and followers to accept the winner as their elected leader. Do not insult your victorious opponent or engage in name calling of that candidate and her/his supporters.

Our democracy has survived over 200 years largely because losing candidates and their supporters have accepted the winning candidate even if those disappointed supporters strongly opposed the policies of the winning candidate.

The most significant deviation from this history of election results was the actions of southern states to secede from the United States rather than accept the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Supporters of losing candidates must accept the winner as the winner and holder of the office. This does not mean the members of the losing side need to support the policies of the winning candidate, this does not mean that supporters of the losing side must cease opposition including rallies, marches, letter writing and just plain complaining.

Just accept, peacefully, that your candidate lost.

If you as a candidate win, respect your opponent and his/her followers and supporters. The election is over and you are the winner, suspend permanently your just concluded campaign.

A winning candidate needs to immediately move from candidate mode to School Board Member, Commissioner, Congressperson, Senator or President working on behalf of all who live in the district, state or nation.

If you supported the winning candidate, conduct yourself with class by accepting that your opponents supporters are entitled to their beliefs and treat them with dignity. The demeaning and insulting name calling that has been the hallmark of the last couple of years ought to stop with this just completed election. 

The winner of an election has a moral obligation to become a leader for the entire population. He/She needs to work to unite the public, reduce divisiveness created during the election and work towards building mutual respect and toleration for every person by every person he/she now serves.

Leadership, and that is what holding office requires, means working to unite the entire constituency for the benefit of the entire constituency, not just your supporters.

Since the election is now history, it is my hope that all candidates have already taken these steps and moved from candidate to office holder or from candidate to defeated but still loyal American.

The greatest threat to America is not the political beliefs of the right or of the left, it is the growing hostility between those who hold these different beliefs. Those of you who won an election on Tuesday have no greater duty than to rebuild respect within and among Americans who hold differing beliefs.

– Ted Suss is a local environmental enthusiast, former Wabasso school superintendent and politician from Lucan