At the New Yorker hotel in Manhattan on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton gave the speech no politician wants to give, conceding the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump.
“This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country,” Clinton said. “This is painful, and it will be for a long time.”
But she didn’t mourn for long. In a perfect display of the character that has set Clinton apart in this campaign and throughout her career, she pivoted to a tone of hope and determination. Clinton reminded those who may be tempted to face this moment with cynicism that it’s in the interest of America to keep an open mind about Trump’s presidency. She talked about the importance of fighting for an American dream that benefits “people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities.” She noted that the US is a nation more divided than many had thought, yet professed an unwavering belief that the country still has its best days ahead.
Her speech was full of heart, yet not emotional. While many watching cried, she did not (though both Bill Clinton and Tim Kaine teared up). Instead, Clinton focused on sending the best message she could to the largest audience she’ll have for a while—maybe forever.
Perhaps most important, Clinton spoke to those who saw in her not just a worthy candidate, but a potential female president, those who hoped her election would make history for gender equality. She reminded all little girls that her defeat doesn’t change their worth, and shouldn’t affect their ambitions.
“We still have not shattered that highest glass ceiling,” Clinton said. “But some day someone will—hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”
Her speech was a classy display of what it means to be a fighter, to be able to lose with elegance. It was a speech that showcased her profound love for her country, a speech that put America first and the candidate second—like a president should do.
“This loss hurts,” Clinton said. “But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is. It is worth it.”