During the Democratic primary, as the choice narrowed to Obama and Clinton, it was pretty common for people to say that no matter what we'd have a strong nominee and President. There was a lot of confidence that either candidate would win the election over the Republican alternative, and would go on to be a strong leader.
As the campaign went on, this feeling faded -- losing became unthinkable on both sides, and the campaign turned ugly -- but there was still something held in reserve, some places we did not go. I can't speak for anyone else as to why we didn't go for broke, but my own opinion is that we felt that after the primary we'd have to work together. And while there was some discussion before the DNC that the party was split, the convention unified the party.
What about after the general election, now less than a month away? The same logic applies. We'll all be Americans, and we must unite behind the President, no matter how unthinkable that might seem now. But there's a lot of concern, expressed openly, that there will be violence if Obama wins -- that somehow the Republicans will not feel that an African-American, even if he wins the Electoral College, is a legitimate President. If so, this is a prescription for nothing less than civil war.
I know what it feels like to be bewildered by the choice made by our country. I felt we were poised on a precipice of disaster in 2004 when we re-elected President Bush, but I accepted the result. I said at the time that we need to listen to the Americans who voted for him, because they must be trying to say something. Well, I spent four years listening and nothing came back. So we worked and patiently waited as our country continued to fumble and blunder and waste opportunity after opportunity. Now, facing a global economic collapse, and who knows what politically and militarily, our country will have to either unite, or fly apart.
I'm going to add my voice, as humble and unpowerful as it is, to the growing chorus asking the Republicans to take a step back, and think longer term, bigger picture. This is not going to end well if we can't agree that whoever wins this election is our leader for the next four years, at a time when we desperately need leadership. There's an awful spirit to this competition that says when it's over we will not unite, and that would be a disaster.
McCain must give a speech, like the one given by Obama when racial issues came to the front earlier this year, and say clearly that no matter who wins, we must unite behind the new President. I have no doubt that Obama would echo this. Then during the remaining weeks of the campaign we can rebuild the spirit that America is famous for, and prepare to face the huge challenges that are in front of (all of) us.
Update: He's going in the right direction, believe it or not, despite the certainty of some of the commenters here that it would be tantamount to conceding.