Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Conceding Defeat...

Few that lived through the event can forget the drama that entailed during the 2000 election for President between then Governor George W Bush and Vice President Al Gore. At midnight, on November 8th Vice President Gore placed a phone call to Governor Bush stating, “We gave them a cliffhanger” and thereby conceding the race for President. However as election results in Florida continued to change so did the possible outcome. At 2:30am, Gore placed another call to Bush stating that his margin for victory in Florida was “too close to call” and that he wanted to wait it out. Bush, shocked to say the least at this point stated “You mean to tell me, Mr. Vice President, you’re retracting your concession?” In which Gore responded, “You don’t have to be snippy about it.” Although rarely involving so much drama the concession call to the winner has been apart of the pantheon of election races for quite some time.

It’s a ceremonial moment more than anything in which the losing candidate has an opportunity to show the quality of their character in a moment which would be devastating. As far back as the election of 1860, Stephen A. Douglas conceded the election Abraham Lincoln stating “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” The call, or in this case letter, gives the public an opportunity to see our great democracy at work and make some attempt at uniting the people who voted against the winner to rally behind them. Some candidates even try to give words of encouragement hoping to portray a sense of unity and hope in the candidate that is now representing them. “The people have made their choice and I congratulate you. That you may be a servant and guardian of peace and make the vale of trouble a door of hope is my earnest prayer. Best Wishes, Adlai Stevenson,” which was sent to Dwight D Eisenhower after his victory in the 1952 Presidential election.

This call would have to be one of the toughest things a candidate does during the election. After months and months of spending money, time, and personal exhaustion to win the race, you have to admit defeat directly to your opponent. The majority of the time it is to the person, from your perspective, which has been running your name through the mud, telling near lies about your record, and misleading the public about how you want to do your job once elected. As Election Day is here it is more than likely that these calls will be made everywhere whether the candidate wants to or not but in the grander scheme of things it shows our civility and how our democratic system is still running strong.   

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