George H.W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton in 1993 shows Donald Trump how to lose gracefully

By @chelean on
Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush
Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton (L) and George H.W. Bush attend the "All Together Now - A Celebration of Service" at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington March 21, 2011. Reuters/Jim Young

As Donald Trump stubbornly declared that he would only accept the US election results if he won, the Internet has unearthed a months-old Instagram post from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that should teach Trump how to gracefully accept lost. The post was a 1993 letter from then-outgoing US President George H.W. Bush to his successor, Bill Clinton.

In 1993, Bush failed to secure a second term in office to Clinton. However, instead of bitterly protesting his lost – what Trump has threatened to do if lost to another Clinton – Bush had a more dignified and commendable approach.

He penned a letter of concession and left it in the Oval Office for Bill to discover in January 1993. The handwritten note was posted on Instagram by Hillary in June, and has again gone viral after the third and final US presidential debate of Trump and Hillary Clinton on Wednesday.

You may have noticed a letter that went viral on the internet this week. The letter is from George H.W. Bush’s presidential library. I hadn’t read it in a long time, until yesterday. It moved me to tears, just like it did all those years ago. It’s the letter that President Bush left in the Oval Office for my husband, back in January of 1993. They had just fought a fierce campaign. Bill won, President Bush lost. In a democracy, that’s how it goes. But when Bill walked into that office for the very first time as President, that note was waiting for him. It had some good advice about staying focused on what mattered, despite the critics. It wished him happiness. And it concluded with these words: “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country’s success. And I am rooting hard for you. George.” That’s the America we love. That is what we cherish and expect.

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on Jun 14, 2016 at 4:25pm PDT

“Dear Bill, When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

“I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some presidents have described.

“There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

“You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

“Your success is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck – George”

Bush showed how to lose gracefully and with dignity, in contrast to fellow Republican Trump, who first declared that he might not accept the results of the US election in November, and then later on vowing to accept the results only if he’s declared the winner.

Trump has warned repeatedly throughout his campaign of widespread voter fraud, which, analysts have pointed out, has no evidence supporting it. At the debate on Wednesday, he refused to say if he would accept the outcome of the elections, saying he would keep everyone “in suspense.”

Later on at a rally in Ohio, he has promised that he would “totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election... if I win.”