Joe Biden, as vice president, administers the Senate oath to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Collins' husband Tom Daffron is at center. Credit: Susan Walsh / AP

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Here’s to law and order.

After various news media outlets called the election in favor of Joe Biden, Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement. She congratulated the former vice president on his “apparent” victory.

In keeping with their recently-finished $130 million campaign against her, Democrats mocked her word choice. They were aghast that “apparent” entered her vocabulary.

Of course, their objections are nonsense. Biden is absolutely the apparent victor. But, until the appropriate officials in each state certify the results, and until the Electoral College convenes, his victory is only apparent.

Them’s the rules.

Now, President Donald Trump is pursuing recourse to determine the legality of numerous ballots, most notably in Pennsylvania. His efforts aren’t frivolous, even if they are unlikely to be fruitful.

But that is the beauty of the American system. The contest may continue, but the trials are in courts, not by combat.

Collins’ comments reflect the nuance that is often missing from political debates today. But that is why she is effective as a senator, and why the apparent president-elect made an effort to reach out and congratulate her on her victory.

Effective policy making requires this nuance. People who demand that reality succumb to their feelings undermine the foundation of our nation. If Trump refuses to accede to the ultimate decision of our courts, be they right or wrong, he will be counted among that number.

We’re watching it play out in Portland right now.

Former mayor — and current BDN columnist — Ethan Strimling joined forces with the Democratic Socialists and other left-wing groups to get five referendum questions on the ballot. Four of them passed.

The one grabbing the most headlines dealt with the minimum wage. It will now creep up to $15 per hour by 2024. It is much more reasonable than the left’s similar effort in 2015 attempting to reach the same wage by 2019.

But if 2020 has taught us anything, there has to be a twist. And there was. The referendum also added a “disaster wage,” increasing the “normal” minimum wage by 50 percent whenever the governor or the city declares a state of emergency.

However, we are a nation of laws, not feelings. And the actual law written by the Democratic Socialist-led group didn’t actually say what they wished it would. Because they failed to draft it correctly, the “disaster wage” portion of the ordinance does not actually go into effect until 2022, according to city officials.

Contrary to the arguments of advocates, this isn’t some error invented by small businesses. Even former gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidate Betsy Sweet — representing the left flank of the Democratic party — acknowledged in a letter to the city that the referendum was far from clear and asked the elected officials to provide guidance for her clients, a group of non-profit mental health care providers.

The city council — and city counsel — responded to that request, releasing guidance on the plain language of the new ordinance.

This has caused fits amongst the referendum’s boosters. They are apoplectic that officials are going to enforce the law as they wrote it, rather than what they subjectively intended.

There is a common thread here. Democrats are mad at Susan Collins for correctly saying that Joe Biden is the “apparent” winner of the presidency. Democratic Socialists are mad that Democrats in Portland are applying the law as written.

Yet passion does not override law, no matter how deeply felt.

That applies equally to supporters of the apparent president-elect, the present president, or Portland’s progressive partisans.

It is the most basic expression of “law and order” in the American system. And it is a beautiful thing.

Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.