Any normal president would have long since called his opponent, delivered a gracious concession speech and ordered staff to prepare to hand over power. Mr. Trump’s pathetic refusal to admit defeat has held up a transition that should begin immediately. Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, has so far declined to issue a document beginning the transition process, thereby delaying the turnover of funds, office space, equipment and other government resources of the kind Mr. Trump got without question after he won the 2016 election. Mr. Trump’s reality-denial is not just classless and inflammatory; his childishness may also make it harder for the new administration to hit the ground running in January.
You might have hoped that senior Republicans, such as the recently reelected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), would, finally, put nation ahead of political calculation and level with the country to avoid further erosion of faith in democracy among those being encouraged to believe the election was stolen. Instead, they are silent — or worse. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) declared Sunday that “Trump has not lost. Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard.” He listed a handful of minor alleged irregularities far too small to have affected the results. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) insisted Sunday that “President Trump still has a path to victory, and that path is to count every single legal vote that was cast, but also not to count any votes that were fraudulently cast or illegally cast.” Mr. McConnell, too, implied that there were severe irregularities, saying that “all legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent — or observable — by all sides.”
Some Republicans chose a more decent path. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Sunday congratulated “the next president, Joe Biden, and the next vice president, Kamala Harris.” Former president George W. Bush said Sunday that, “though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Sunday, “It’s destructive to the cause of democracy to suggest widespread fraud or corruption. There’s just no evidence of that at this stage. And I think it’s important for us to recognize that the world is watching.”
Mr. Trump and his enablers are fueling fever dreams among Trump supporters on social media — that ballot-counting software secretly switched massive numbers of votes to Mr. Biden, or that Philadelphia vote counters tainted the tally beyond the view of election observers, or that the Supreme Court will throw out so many ballots that the president will still prevail. These are fantasies, but they are still dangerous. The phony narrative of a stolen election will harm Mr. Biden’s effort to reunify and govern the nation, as it tarnishes the United States’ — and democracy’s — reputation around the world.