Trump’s predicament — a one-term president ousted convincingly during a period of national hardship — is not unprecedented. President George H.W. Bush lost under similar conditions, to Bill Clinton in 1992, the last time a Democrat took Georgia.
Bush’s speech, conceding to Clinton, was short, bittersweet, and a model of patriotism Trump could never muster. “America must always come first,” Bush said. “The people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system.”
Bush encouraged Americans to unite behind the winner. “I ask that we stand behind our new president,” Bush said. “And regardless of our differences, all Americans share the same purpose: to make this, the world’s greatest nation, more safe and more secure, and to guarantee every American a shot at the American dream.” He singled out young people, exhorting them not to “be deterred, kept away from public service, by the smoke and fire of a campaign year or the ugliness of politics.”
The speech — delivered a generation ago — is a reminder of the way the peaceful transition of power is meant to function, and the degree to which Trump has bankrupted the norms of our nation.
Watch the full speech here:
Read a lightly condensed transcript here:
Well, here’s the way I see it. Here’s the way we see it and the country should see it — that the people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system. I just called Governor Clinton over in Little Rock and offered my congratulations. He did run a strong campaign. I wish him well in the White House.
And I want the country to know that our entire administration will work closely with his team to ensure the smooth transition of power. There is important work to be done, and America must always come first, so we will get behind this new president and wish him well.
And to all who voted for us, voted for me, here, especially here, but all across the country, thank you for your support. And we have fought the good fight and we’ve kept the faith, and I believe I have upheld the honor of the presidency of the United States.
Now I ask that we stand behind our new president and regardless of our differences, all Americans share the same purpose: To make this, the world’s greatest nation, more safe and more secure and to guarantee every American a shot at the American dream.
And I would like to thank so many of you who have worked beside me to improve America and to literally change the world…. But tonight is really not a night for speeches, but I want to share a special message with the young people of America. I remain absolutely convinced that we are a rising nation. We have been in an extraordinarily difficult period, but do not be deterred, kept away from public service, by the smoke and fire of a campaign year or the ugliness of politics.
As for me, I’m going to serve and try to find ways to help people. But I plan to get very active in the grandchild business. And in finding ways to help others. But I urge you, the young people of this country, to participate in the political process. It needs your idealism. It needs your drive. It needs your conviction.
And again, my thanks, my congratulations to Governor Clinton, to his running mate, Senator Gore, and my special thanks to each and everyone of you, many of you who have been my side at every single political battle. May God bless — May God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much. Thank you so much.
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