We know who won the presidential election.


President Trump knows it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knows it. All of America knows it.


And yet these officials are reluctant to acknowledge the obvious: That Joe Biden will be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president on Jan. 20. Trump is acting out of wounded pride, and Pompeo’s snide recent remark to a reporter about a second term is meant to curry favor with his boss.


But neither man does a service to his country.


It goes without saying that Trump is within his rights to pursue reports of fraud, and it’s a truism that all legal ballots must be counted. However, the idea that there is some vast tranche of illegal ballots — enough to flip results in multiple states — is a ludicrous fiction. There were no substantial irregularities reported, and except for occasional slow counting of mail-in ballots, the election proceeded smoothly.


So what’s the holdup? Trump seems to be unable to accept a loss, even though aides around him are busy leaking to reporters that they understand the situation. And those around him, including Pompeo, are indulging the president’s worst instincts toward conspiracy.


We must be very clear here: This is dangerous.


Our entire system depends upon basic democratic principles. The person who receives the most votes wins, and the person who receives fewer votes loses. To cast doubt on that process, and on those basics, is to threaten the very foundation of this country.


It doesn’t matter whether Trump and Pompeo mean to do this. They likely would claim that they don’t. But they must step back from the brink and take a wider look. Not everything is about them, or about their political future. This is about the future of democratic government in the entire United States of America.


If this election, with its clear verdict on the incumbent president, can be called into question, then no election in our country will be apparent again. They will instead devolve into legal battles and exercise of brute political force.


We may be naive, but we don’t believe it will come to that. As we stated at the beginning, it is clear who won this presidential election. But the president and those who enable him must step back from the brink and accept what is apparent to the rest of us.


Win or lose, it’s the right thing to do.