Some of the greatest political speeches I have ever heard have been concession speeches.
I remember the gracious words of President George Herbert Walker Bush in November of 1992 after he lost his re-election to Bill Clinton. He said, “The people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system.”
He promised to get behind Bill Clinton and then gracefully quipped, “I plan to get very active in the grandchild business.”
I remember Vice President Al Gore speaking after the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, that decided the closest presidential election in American history in effect by one vote, in a 5-4 decision. Declaring that America was about the rule of law, Gore stated, “Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the Court’s decision, I respect it.”
He then added, “Just moments ago I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd President of the United States.” And then with humor reminiscent of President George Herbert Walker Bush, he added, “And I promised I wouldn’t call him back this time.”
It was a self-deprecating humorous reminder that Gore had actually made two concessions, recanting one he had made on election night before the conflicting election vote counts in Florida.
I remember John McCain on election night in 2008 telling the large crowd of his supporters, “A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him on his election as President of the country we both love.”
At first the crowd booed at the mention of Senator Obama’s name. But John McCain, ever the patriot, shook his head and said, “No…this is an historic election. And I recognize the special significance (it) has for African Americans and for the special pride that must be their’s tonight.”
I also remember the last Presidential election concession speech I heard. On election night 2016, after losing one of the biggest political upsets in Presidential history, Hillary Clinton acknowledged, “This is painful, and it will be for a long time.” And then she added, “But I still believe in America, and always will. And if you do as well, we must accept this result. Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler likely would have won their run-off elections in Georgia earlier this month, and would now be returning to the United States Senate.
Mitch McConnell would remain the Senate Majority Leader, as Republicans would have maintained control of the Senate.
Our beautiful Capitol would not have been desecrated on January 6.
Donald Trump would not have been impeached for the second time.
There would be no walls being erected around our beautiful Capitol, and it would not be surrounded by federal troops for the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
President Donald Trump has not made a concession speech, and apparently never will. Had he done so, I believe the following would be true:
Most importantly, five people who tragically died at the Capitol on January 6 would be alive.
Concession speeches are very powerful. The failure of President Donald Trump to make one may have changed the course of history.