A concession speech isn't a legal requirement, but an echo of American democracy that we deserve.
Concession speeches throughout decades of American history have been recognized as a political courtesy and call for unity among citizens. Concessions started in 1896 when Republican William McKinley defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan to become America’s 25th president. Bryan offered his congratulations and stated: “We were not fighting each other, but stood as the representatives of different political ideas, between which the people were to choose.”
That’s democracy in a sentence.
Although concession speeches have been a regularity for most of our elective government, it hasn’t always been straightforward. The 2000 election ran into issues when Al Gore personally called George W. Bush and conceded but then retracted the statement due to incoming vote-counting disputes. But when ballot counts officially tallied and certified in favor of Republican candidate Bush, Gore then called Bush to concede again. Even with months of conflicts and disagreements, Gore called for his supporters to unite behind the common good and work together.
John McCain’s concession speech speaks volumes about what a politician’s true intentions should be: Their citizens. McCain said, “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating [Barack Obama], but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together.”
While we can sometimes misconstrue the president as a pop-culture celebrity, it’s crucial to remember their real purpose and job. Our hope should always be that each United States president does the best job possible for our country.
But that isn’t the problem we’re having now.
It has been history in the making since Election Day. It comes as no surprise that President Donald Trump has been legally contesting every angle he and his administration can. In doing so, he is attempting to undermine the American voting system’s sovereignty and legitimacy. While his response to what the majority of people want comes to no one's surprise, it does create a road map of other issues. One of the biggest elements of a concession speech embodies its call to unite the American people, regardless of which candidate won. The point being: We’re all working toward the same goal of bettering our country for ourselves and future generations.
This is important because political parties have not been as divided as they are today since the Civil War. The 45th president’s refusal to accept American voters' demands continues to drive the polarization even further. There’s a fine line between fighting for what you believe in and fighting for what you want to believe.
Trump isn’t immune to this.
Trump’s political power trip is losing its foothold in Washington, D.C., and it’s time for Trump to understand that once and for all. Fundamentally, we make up one nation, and we shouldn’t forget that.
To call a game “rigged” exemplifies poor sportsmanship, but to cry “fraud” in an attempt to discredit legally cast votes embodies unconstitutionality. I am all for contesting for the viable truth, but crying wolf after a loss isn’t the representation this nation needs. Election officials have said that there is no evidence of voter fraud. A study found voter fraud incident rates at 0.0003 percent to 0.0025 percent. I might as well get struck by lightning while eating a hot dog before I, or anyone else, comes across any illegitimate votes. All this emphasizes the security and integrity of our voting and government systems.
I will never expect American citizens to appreciate a singular candidate unanimously. That is absurd. Democracy calls us never to settle. I hope that Americans keep voting. That we keep protesting. That we keep the conversation going. I expect for us to continuously work together to make our nation better. That includes the president, whomever that may be.
But Trump has made history with his lawsuit melodramas, and his legislative Hail-Marys aren’t helping anyone. Not conceding doesn’t permit any legal consequences, but it sure does result in a more bitter, more divided nation. Americans need to come together now more than ever.
I am a massive proponent of standing up for things that people believe to be wrong and unjust. I am a huge proponent of sometimes being the bad guy to make things right for the greater good. I am not a proponent of disenfranchising millions of Americans because I disagree with the result. Our forefathers founded America upon the pillars of courage and prosperity, and the opposite will not crumble it.
Americans have spoken, and Donald Trump needs to speak as well.
Kaelin Connor is a psychology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.