That was the crux of his speech Monday night, after the electoral college vote that made official (or rather, yet again made official) his victory over Donald Trump. After a blizzard of false claims of fraud and frivolous lawsuits, the race is over. The attempt to overturn the people's will failed.
In particular, the president-elect singled out courageous election officials – both Democrats and Republicans – who refused to be cowed by Trump's attacks on the election. "We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude," he said, "and our democracy survived because of them." He didn't name names, but one can reasonably assume he was talking about conservatives such as Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who publicly debunked pro-Trump conspiracy theories, or its voting system implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, who warned that the president's actions were stoking violence and has been since barraged with death threats.
As a rhetorical matter, the president-elect was right to praise the courage of Republicans who stood up to Trump's attempt to overturn the election. He was also right to declare victory for democracy. It's his job to put the country's best foot forward.
But when it comes to the republic's longer-term survival, the outcome remains far from certain. Because even the Republican officials who most bravely and patriotically stood up to Trump still don't get it. The greatest threat to the American experiment isn't the would-be autocrat on his way out the door. It's the political party he continues to both lead and personify.