In the immediate aftermath of what has been an undeniably ugly presidential campaign, I felt it was worth reflecting on how previous transfers of power have been handled.
In the 1992 Presidential election, Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush. In his concession speech, Bush said this: “There is important work to be done and America must always come first. So we will get behind this new President and wish him well.”
In 2000, George Bush defeated Al Gore in a historic election that was finalized with a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In his concession speech, Gore said this: “I accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together.”
In 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McClain. In his concession speech, McCain said this: “These are difficult times for our Country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together.”
And in 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. In her concession speech, Clinton said this: “We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
Ours is a history of peaceful and dignified transfers of power. As we celebrate this victory, it’s important to also remain true to that principle and remain committed to working both with those with whom we are politically aligned, and also to look for ways of bridging the divide that so clearly exists.
It’s finally over, and I’m very happy to offer my congratulations to President-elect Biden, and to Vice-President-elect Harris in this history-making 2020 election.