In the Ted Talk above, Lawyer and political commentator Van Jones talks about how a customary concession speech is the only safeguard of the US Democracy and avoids violence, arson, strife, bloodshed and riots.

Is it true that a concession speech by the "losing" candidate is the only necessary thing upon which a change of power hinges?

Which aspects of the constitution regulate the change of power following an election?

  • I made some changes that might be sufficient for this to be re-opened. On a related note, you really need to read the history of democracy if you think that the US is the oldest democracy in the world. – Dan Scally Nov 17 '20 at 16:11
  • Dear @DanScally, I happened to go through this article on the website of World Economic Forum.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/…. By the way, what exactly do we have to do to open a question? Please educate. – Krishan Nov 17 '20 at 16:37
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    @DanScally which of today's democracies are older than the US? – phoog Nov 17 '20 at 17:57
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    @phoog, after all the USA has been democratic since at least 1964 – James K Nov 17 '20 at 19:56

The President's constitutional position is defined in article 2.

Section 1 states "He shall hold his office during the term of four years"

It then describes the process of electors casting votes and as amended by the 12 amendment states "the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President; if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed."

And finally, this paragraph is further amended by the 20th amendment which states "The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January"

So there is the constitutional basis for a change in President. The length of one term is 4 years. The term ends on 20th January. The new president is chosen by electors.

A concession speech is important because of another part of the Constitution. The Presidential oath. The President swears to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." This means that the President swears a solemn oath to (among other things) leave the office of President at the end of their term unless re-elected. In the past, presidents have fulfilled their oath in part by giving a concession speech saying "The other guy won, and I will recognise that". It isn't required, as the President can "preserve protect and defend" without a concession speech. However, it is unprecedented in modern times for a defeated President to refuse to do so, for it risks conflict and bloodshed.


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