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Opinion >  Column

Sue Lani Madsen: Pre-election advice to a post-election community

It would be easy to opinionate on Wednesday’s chaos for Thursday publication, dissecting the presidential election results or lack thereof with 20-20 hindsight. This column takes a different approach.

From Sunday afternoon until Washington polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, I reached out to Republicans and Democrats for comment regardless of the outcome. What words would they commit to pre-election to be read in the newspaper on Thursday morning?

Sen. Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, remembers living through the 2000 election and Bush v. Gore at the Supreme Court. He’d like the headline to read “IT’S RESOLVED and there’s a clear and honest winner. If this country knows who the president is for sure and not through litigation, that would be a good morning. Just tell us who won, not who’s litigating and that’s all I need for a peaceful transfer of power.”

He mentioned the stories of boarded-up urban windows in anticipation of violence. “That’s not my constituents or my country. All of us who are political have been disappointed at some time in our lives, people on both sides, but most of us move on.”

David Green, vice chair of Washington State Democrats and candidate for Spokane County commissioner, affirmed his confidence in Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Democratic Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton and Washington’s long-standing all-mail balloting. “As an election observer, I can attest to the care taken locally when validating voter signatures, discerning voter intent on coffee-stained ballots, and that internal controls in place to keep track of each ballot as it works its way through the validation and tabulation process are followed to the letter.

“Our democracy depends on each of us respecting the system of running our elections on a fair and impartial basis. And on us, as voters, respecting the results of each election, whether at the national, state or local level, no matter whether the candidate we supported won or lost. So take a deep breath, exhale, and let’s work together to build a better future.”

Marlene Pfeifer, Kittitas County Republican Party chairman and Washington State National committeewoman said: “Regardless of the outcome, we have all got to get along and bridge the divisiveness. If we lose, I hope we can reach out to Democrats. We will stand by our principles but we will honor the election, work hard and continue fighting our battles, respectfully. No matter who wins, we’ve got to come together and listen without putting up a wall saying, ‘Yeah but,’ when others tell us their stories.”

Earl Moore, president, Ponderosa Republican Women and Spokane County Republican Party State committeewoman, focused on the bigger picture, knowing the outcome is in God’s hands. “Today I’m just thankful to live in a country where we have a choice. And if it’s not your choice … we can celebrate, but we can be humble. You can be a gracious winner and a gracious loser. I will pray for those who have been given fresh power, and I would pray that they would represent me.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been re-elected to Congress where she’ll be focused on systemic changes to meet needs but said “we’re all challenged to meet the needs right in front of us. COVID has challenged us to look at what’s most important, too often we don’t even have time to be kind.”

McMorris Rodgers was troubled by a Gallup survey saying Americans were living with high levels of stress even before COVID. “There is so much contempt in our culture, viewing others as without value. As people of faith we’re called to be agents of reconciliation, to pray for our enemies. It cannot be business as usual.”

As a conservative, I have more back doors to contact Republicans than Democrats, but Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, is always gracious to answer. His pre-election advice to the community after the election? “That’s a tough one. … Tell everyone politics can still be the art of possible, regardless of the outcome the time is now to come together, with good leadership regardless of the letters next to their name.”

Making peace with an adverse outcome doesn’t mean surrendering your principles. For elections at every level, commit to no gloating and no whining. If your candidate lost, reach out to the other side and congratulate them. If you don’t have friends on the other side, go out and make some. Then stay engaged, work within our resilient system and keep it going for the next generation.

Contact Sue Lani Madsen at

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