Hillary Clinton told Joe Biden, the Democrat candidate for president, that he “should not concede under any circumstances.” So even if Donald Trump seems to have won after election day, she wants Biden to keep up the fight and not give in.
But this isn’t how she felt about conceding back in 2016, when she thought she would beat Donald Trump and win the presidency for herself. She asked him whether he would concede if he lost the election. Donald Trump refused to commit to yes or no, and the media ran sensationalized conversations about what might happen if he lost but refused to quit.
Clinton suggested Trump would be “threatening democracy” if he didn’t answer the concession question. It didn’t turn out to be an issue, though, since Trump won the election and it was Clinton who was forced to concede the victory.
Most losing candidates concede immediately when they have clearly lost. This is so we have a smooth and peaceful transition of power in America. However, American politics has seen a few cases where one candidate chose not to concede immediately. So far, it has never been a threat to the Republic.
Gore Vs. Bush
The 2000 presidential battle between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush came down to Florida’s electoral votes. With an automatic recount triggered by a very thin vote margin, Americans waited and argued for 36 days while Florida election officials tried to figure out the state’s punch-card ballots. Gore conceded, then backtracked, then sued.
It was contentious, but when the election was finally certified on Dec. 12, a disappointed Gore conceded.
The Republic Does Okay When Elections Are in Doubt
The 1884 and 1916 elections are examples of losers not conceding immediately. In 1884, Republican candidate James Blaine insisted on an official canvass of votes before conceding to Democrat Grover Cleveland. No one panicked. No one rioted. No one stopped traffic. No one was cuffed and dragged away in shackles.
The 1916 presidential contest between incumbent President Woodrow Wilson and Republican challenger Charles Evans Hughes also was not called on Election Day. Hughes waited for an official declaration. But he was adamant about the ease of transition, once stating:
“In the absence of proof of fraud, no such cry should be raised to becloud the title of the next President of the United States.”
American elections are sometimes messy, but the system is in place to ensure the right guy or gal wins fair and square.