Hillary Clinton's Concession Speech Does Not Change a Thing -- but It Gives Us Hope

Everyone -- us, pollsters, Hillary Clinton, and arguably Donald Trump included -- thought Hillary would win this election. But she didn't. We thought history would be made. It wasn't. We thought we'd be able to forget about Donald Trump. We won't. But we don't think we'll be able to forget about Hillary Clinton, either -- Clinton delivered her concession speech around 11:30 a.m. on November 9, and she reminded us that this democracy demands our participation, no matter how disheartening it may be.

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For an election so polarizing and a campaign process so hateful, Hillary's speech was remarkably kind and gracious. It was exactly what we needed to hear from her in what may be her last large-scale public speech for a while, and it was exactly the kind of ending Donald Trump never would have given this election.

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It was not, as she said, "the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for." But it's the one we got.

"I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too," she said. "This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love, and about building an America that's hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted."

If that seems like a dig at Donald Trump's campaign, it probably was. But that's about as negative as she got. Despite our differences with Donald Trump, she said, it's our responsibility, as a democracy, to guarantee him "an open mind and a chance to lead."

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President Obama spoke from the White House about an hour after Hillary spoke from New York, and his speech also focused on the peaceful transition of power:

The one thing you learn quickly in this job is that the presidency and the vice presidency are bigger than any of us .... 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.

Here's the rest of his speech:

The country's decision last night will have a large and lasting effect on the international community, but as both Hillary and Obama pointed out, the effects of it will also land heavily in the hands of our nation's youth.

Both addressed that voting bloc directly: Obama encouraged them not to get discouraged or cynical, while Hillary said to "never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."

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For what it's worth, she also called out the women and girls who have watched her and supported her for the past year and a half:

To all the women -- especially young women -- who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion .... To all the little girls who are watching this: Never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.

It's sad because this election could have meant so much to them -- to us, and to our daughters. It's sad because a large percentage of women and minorities and people who need the government to pay attention to them voted for Hillary and instead they got Trump. It's sad because a Trump presidency will hurt them and put them in danger.

It's sad because Hillary did everything right and Trump did everything wrong and he still managed to win.

It's sad, but for now, it's how it is.

But Hillary says she still believes in America, and she always will. "And if you do too," she said, "we must accept this result and then look to the future. Our constitutional democracy demands our participation -- not just every four years, but all the time."

She's right. Now is not the time we give up; it's the time we speak up. We write to our politicians and we protest. We tell our stories and listen to those of others. We vote.

And next time, we win.

 

Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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