Obviously, the real question is to know when to accept losing and what to learn from it.
Undoubtedly in a democracy we must accept the people’s vote and stop protesting it in the hope of turning back the clock. Oh, well now I probably lost half my readers.
While I was not his supporter and railed against his candidacy, I am learning to accept Trump’s victory and more importantly, to see it in the proper light that ‘America is greater than any one leader’.
As L.B.J. famously said in 1963, speaking for the first time as President of the United States after Kennedy’s assassination. “A great leader is dead; A great nation must move on. Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
Or, as the late singer, poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Sometimes things don’t go as we imagined or as initially wanted, that doesn’t mean that we can tell how things will turn out.
We need remember that no one died and while some of us would have liked a different result, we must constructively channel our resolve and resilience in the service of our nation’s future and stop crying over our perceived loss. Or better on, as famously stated by the great Imelda Marcos – Win or lose, after the election – we go shopping.
A lot of things have been said about “what would we tell our children” following this election and I know one thing we should never tell our kids: We cannot tell them, “Do not accept the results of a democratic election.”
But let’s try a better and more optimistic argument for our new age. I recently read Thomas Ricks review of the Season’s Military History and in looking back at a series of historical events, I want to suggest that the outcome was often very different from the view immediately after or during the events that shaped our recent history.
Trying to keep its soldiers from harm, the extreme separatist movement in America during the WWII was actually responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
General McArthur’s zeal, during the Korean War, was responsible for the establishment of the current hostile North Korea.
Yet, the humiliating defeat in that war is ultimately responsible for the establishment of the US military-industrial complex which led to America ultimately winning the cold war.
The aggressive administration of the early 1960’s was responsible for the disaster in the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam War, yet it was the same President, JFK, who defied Khrushchev’s gamble on his being a weak leader.
Lyndon Jonson was not the brightest of our Presidents, yet it was he who signed the most important series of legislation of our time, and Nixon, despite being so hated and dishonest, was actually responsible for the normalization of our relationship with China, which changed the face of our world.
We don’t have a crystal ball and we cannot tell how things will turn out. Sometimes, just when we think we’ve lost – we win and vice versa.
That doesn’t suggest that ‘anything goes’, but that we need to focus on what Presidents do and not what they say on the campaign trail.
If making promises that cannot be kept is accepted hyperbole by one candidate, why should Trump’s tactic of being a distasteful offensive and disagreeable candidate be any different? It worked for him and he won. This is our unfortunate election process and we cannot blame him for playing it to win, even as we disagree with his tactics.
One truism that is the cornerstone of my belief system is that civil society depends on the special distinction between what people do and what they say.
Trump may have said things that offended me, but I am trying to keep an open mind as to who he is and am looking forward to following his Presidency with optimism.
Hillary may have made mistakes with her emails and the Clinton Foundation fundraising, but I am able to separate that from who she is, and President Obama often acted with elitist righteous indignation, but I don’t want to regard him as such.
“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart,” said Robert Green Ingersoll, one of the greatest orators of the nineteenth century during the Golden Age of Free Thought, and who was noted for his defense of agnosticism.
Or as Leonard Cohen said, “Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”
Part of being an American includes both – eternal optimism and the understanding that no one person, no matter how great or wicked they are, can make or break us.
Therefore, I want us to approach the coming months and years with renewed optimism and a resurgence of involvement in the political process.
“Win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand,” said the great Vince Lombardi.
Only this way will we insure that we make America great again. Improve it from within rather than complain from the outside.