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Out of many, one

It’s with heavy hearts that we write this letter. We believe that all of us, no matter which side of the political spectrum we happen to be on, want a country where our children and loved ones can thrive.

We believe that, if we took the time to look closely, we’d find that most of us have a great deal in common.

But we are currently living in a time when our very lives have been politicized — to the point where the divisions between us sometimes seem unbridgeable and possibly beyond repair.

These differences become especially apparent when we try to talk across our divides about the recent election.

We know that facts these days — after being called into question so often — have lost some of their power to persuade, but unless we can agree on a certain set of reality-based assumptions, we will be lost to one another.

So in response to questions being raised about our current political climate, we would like to offer some facts.

Some folks are asking, for example, why it is OK for Hillary Clinton to say the 2016 election wasn’t fair, while Donald Trump is criticized for saying the same thing about the 2020 election, with 75 million Americans to back him up.

Here are the facts:

Back in 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

Nevertheless, she conceded the election to Donald Trump when he was declared the winner on Nov. 9 because by that date he had received the requisite number of electoral college votes (304).

In 2020, for a second time, Trump lost the popular vote. It is true that he earned the votes of 75 million Americans. But Joe Biden won over 81 million votes, the most of any presidential candidate in U.S. history. Biden then went on to earn the number of electoral college votes needed to win the election (306).

In spite of this, however, Trump has to this day refused to declare Biden the winner.

In addition, while Clinton honored the peaceful transition of power that stands as one of the benchmarks of a functioning democracy, Trump has insisted that the election was stolen and has used everything in his power to block that transition, including inciting his followers to raid the U.S. Capitol, a reckless insurrection that left 5 people dead and over 100 Capitol officers injured.

That assault was a wound to our national psyche that still festers weeks later and will (to say the least) prove challenging to heal.

Another question being raised has to do with impeachment. If Trump was not convicted after his first impeachment hearing, does this mean he was not impeached? The answer is no.

Here are the facts. The impeachment process has two parts. The House votes to impeach, after which the Senate conducts a trial and decides whether to convict.

This process was established by our Constitution as a way of providing checks and balances in the event of presidential overreach.

The House has now voted twice to bring articles of impeachment against Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, specifically for abusing the powers of his office.

Regardless of whether the Senate votes to convict, those impeachment judgments will stand. Donald Trump will remain the only U.S. president who has been impeached twice, an indelible stain on his record and on his legacy.

A third question being raised concerns voter fraud. Perhaps, some suggest, the Capitol riots might not have happened if the courts had allowed voter fraud evidence to be heard.

This is possibly the point of greatest contention, the belief on the part of Trump’s followers that the election was rife with voter fraud.

Again, here are the facts. William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General, said in no uncertain terms that no evidence of widespread voter fraud was found in the 2020 election.

In multiple instances — there were over 60 hearings across the country — the former president’s lawyers brought cases to the courts claiming voter fraud, and one by one these cases were dismissed or found to be without merit due to lack of evidence.

Judges appointed by Trump dismissed these cases. The justices on the Supreme Court, three of whom were appointed by Trump himself, dismissed claims of fraud. The top election security official (a Republican) declared the election “the most secure in American history.” The truth is that no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election has ever been produced.

And here is the last, most important fact.

Joe Biden has been chosen in a fair election as our 46th president. America’s strength comes from our ability to work together — to knit together a landscape of diverse people into one nation.

E pluribus unum: out of many, one.

The task is not easy, but it’s worth doing.

For all our sakes, we need to try.

Karen Elias, a Democrat, and Kathy Ebeling, a Republican, are both retired local educators who are eager to find ways, in this difficult time, to find common ground and work toward unity.

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