Hillary Clinton has recently told Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden that he “should not concede under any circumstances.” She meant that no matter who appears to win the 2020 election – Joe Biden or Donald Trump – Biden should not concede defeat.
This is a different policy than what Clinton espoused in 2016, when she ran for president against Trump. In 2016, candidate Hillary Clinton asked her opposition whether he would concede if he lost the election. Donald Trump refused to commit to yes or no, spiking discussions in media circles about what to do if he failed to admit defeat.
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 there is a clear victor, to ensure the peaceful transition of power in America. However, American politics has seen a few cases where one candidate chose not to concede immediately, and no one called it a threat to the Republic.
Gore Vs. Bush
The 2000 epic battle between Democrat Vice President Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush came down to Florida’s electoral votes. With an automatic recount triggered by a razor-thin vote margin, Americans waited and argued for 36 days while Florida election officials attempted to figure out the state’s punch-card ballots. Gore conceded, then backtracked, then sued.
It was contentious, yet 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.
And still, when decorum ruled America’s statesmen, the 1916 presidential contest between incumbent President Woodrow Wilson and Republican challenger Charles Evans Hughes also was not called on Election Day. Hughes preferred to have i’s dotted and t’s crossed and 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.