The Straits Times says

Heal US divide with smooth transition

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John Adams, the first American president to lose a re-election, made a quiet departure in 1801. He got on an early morning stagecoach to avoid having to attend the inauguration of his successor Thomas Jefferson. Mr Donald Trump, the 10th United States president to be denied a second term, could do likewise and slip out of office without conceding his loss. No legal storm will ensue. On Dec 14, the Electoral College will formally cast votes affirming Democratic candidate Joe Biden's win and clear the way for his inauguration on Jan 20. Only after that will Mr Trump's omission of a traditional concession speech come to bite Mr Biden, widening the gap between Americans and their new president.

In a democracy, and especially the US, where gridlocks are resolved through compromise, the loser's words do count and can determine how well the winner prevails. Mr Trump won 10 million more votes in this election than in 2016. As counting continues after the record Nov 3 turnout, Mr Biden has more than 80 million votes, the highest in US history. Mr Trump's tally has crossed 73 million, the second-highest. The obverse side of this feat is that Mr Biden will be left to contend with the most number of Americans whose affection he has to vie for. A majority of Republican voters - nearly 75 per cent - say the election was "stolen" from Mr Trump. With an eye to keeping the base mobilised ahead of Georgia's Jan 5 senatorial run-off elections, the Republican Party has not challenged Mr Trump's continued narrative of having been cheated of a victory. His supporters clutch at contradictory beliefs - that there was fraud harming his chances while accepting Republican victories in Congress and other races from those same ballots. No evidence has emerged of widespread fraud and Mr Trump's attempts to overturn results have been dismissed by judges and election officials.

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