Yesterday, I saw two of the most gracious, classiest speeches of the entire election 2016 season. The first was Ms. Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, and the second was the speech by President Obama on the topic of Trump’s election Tuesday night. These two people are the definition of a class act. Though both were undoubtedly extremely disappointed in the results of the election, neither said a negative word. They were kind, gracious, and put the greater good of the nation before their own personal feelings. This, folks, is what politicians ought to be. Compare that with Trump’s rants about a ‘rigged’ election and his innuendos that he would not accept the results unless he won.
A few key points from Ms. Clinton’s speech will prove my point:
- Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.
- I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future.
- Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it.
- So now, our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.
- To Barack and Michelle Obama, our country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. We thank you for your graceful, determined leadership that has meant so much to so many Americans and people across the world.
Ms. Clinton was flanked by running mate Tim Kaine and husband Bill Clinton, who was visibly holding back his own tears. Ms. Clinton stood strong, she thanked the people who had helped with her campaign, and urged Americans to keep on fighting the good fight for equal rights for all people. In his introductory speech, Tim Kaine drew the largest applause when, quoting Faulkner, he said, “They killed us, but they ain’t whopped us yet.” Again, class and grace.
President Obama was equally respectful and graceful, though I’m sure his heart was as broken as all of ours. A few of his key remarks:
- Yesterday, before votes were tallied, I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people, regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning.
- I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night about 3:30 in the morning, I think it was, to congratulate him on winning the election and I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies.
- Now, it is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect.
- Because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.
- Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first.
- I think of this job as being a relay runner. You take the baton, you run your best race and hopefully by the time you hand it off, you’re a little further ahead, you’ve made a little progress. And I can say that we’ve done that and I want to make sure that handoff is well executed because ultimately we’re all on the same team.
I was and am so incredibly proud of both of them for their polish, their professionalism, and their willingness to make the needs of the people of this nation their number one priority. It had to be hard, especially for Ms. Clinton who has taken so many below-the-belt punches from Trump over the past year and a half. But these two people, Ms. Clinton and President Obama, are professionals to the very core. Can any of us imagine that Trump would have done nearly so well, had the tables been turned? No, I can guarantee that he would, even now, be screaming and ranting to the media and the American people that he had been robbed, the election rigged, and that would have gone on for months. So, today I give two thumbs up to these two people who understand what it means to be selfless and to care more about their country than their own feelings. And a huge THANK YOU to them both for bringing a few moments of sanity back into a world that felt like it was spinning out of control.
In case you missed either of these speeches, here are links to both video and written transcripts of both: