George McGovern photo

Remarks in South Dakota Conceding the Presidential Election

November 07, 1972

Thank you. Thank you very much.

We're here among friends in South Dakota, where this campaign began almost 22 months ago. We now bring it to an end tonight and I have just sent the following telegram to President Nixon:

"Congratulations on your victory. I hope that in the next four years you will lead us to a time of peace abroad and justice at home. You have my full support in such efforts. With best wishes to you and your gracious wife, Pat. Sincerely, George McGovern."

The first Presidential concession that I remember hearing was that of Adlai Stevenson in 1952. He recalled the old Lincoln story of the boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark and when the lad was asked how it felt he replied, "Well, it hurts too much to laugh, but I'm too old to cry."

It does hurt all of us in this auditorium and many others across the country to lose, but we're not going to shed any tears tonight about the great joy that this campaign has brought to us over the past two years. All of the satisfaction and joy that we have found in these past 22 months are not going to be washed away with the tears and regrets on one night.

We have found the greatest outpouring of energy and love that any political effort has ever inspired, at least in my lifetime. Eleanor and I and our family, along with Sargent and Eunice Shriver, will never forget the people of this campaign. We will never forget those that we have seen in countless meeting places all across this country—those we knew about on the telephone and on their feet who have worked so hard, so terribly hard, for all these many, many long months.

The poet Yeats said something that I quoted the night of the Massachusetts primary and it looks like Massachusetts is coming through again tonight.

Yeats said "Count where man's glory most begins and ends and say, my glory was I had such friends." And that's the way I feel tonight.

The Presidency belongs to someone else, but the glory of those devoted working friends and their dedication to the noble ideals of this country sustains us now and it will sustain our country.

We will shed no tears because all of this effort I am positive will bear fruit for years to come.

There can be no question at all that we have pushed this country in the direction of peace, and I think each one of us loves the title of peacemaker more than any office in the land.

We will press on with that effort until all the bloodshed and all the sorrow have ended once and for all.

I want every single one of you to remember and never forget it that if we pushed the day of peace just one day closer, then every minute and every hour and every bone-crushing effort in this campaign was worth the entire effort.

And if we have brought into the political process those who never before have experienced either its joy or its sorrow, then that, too, is an enduring blessing.

Now, the question is to what standards does the loyal opposition now rally? We do not rally to the support of policies that we deplore.

But we do love this country and we will continue to beckon it to a higher standard.

So I ask all of you tonight to stand with your convictions. I ask you not to despair of the political, process of this country, because that process has yielded too much valuable improvement in these past two years. The Democratic Party will be a better party because of the reforms that we have carried out. The nation will be better because we never once gave up the long battle to renew its oldest ideals and to redirect its current energies along more humane and hopeful paths.

So let us play the proper role of the loyal opposition and let us play it in those familiar words from Isaiah that I've quoted so frequently:

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not fade."

God bless you.

George McGovern, Remarks in South Dakota Conceding the Presidential Election Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project