June 13 2010
Those are two of the hardest words to admit especially when it is the outcome of a political contest where the stakes are so high, the attacks so vicious and personal and the results so close.
Yet the recognition and acceptance must be stated: It hurts, I hate it, I lost. I must say it to myself, I must say it to the world.
Admission of failure is a quality of the strong: I am not diminished by the experience, failure is not a measure of my worth. It is simply a setback in my quest for attainment. I can rise above the pain.
Admission of loss shows humility. It is a recognition of one’s humanity and the limitations of the human condition: The plan that I thought God had for me, frankly one for which I got excited, was never there. The fault is not God’s, the fault is mine. I misread the signal but I now get it.
In American Idol the loser is expected to sing as his farewell, the ultimate act of sadism you might say, but one which the public hails and respects. When you acknowledge defeat without shame or rancor, the audience will share your pain. The public loves a graceful loser.
So in politics. Politics is not for the faint-hearted. It is a public spectacle with audience participation. It is an affair played without boundaries nor rules of engagement. Gladiators arm themselves as they can. It is personal, it is dirty. So when losers go down with honor and dignity, the people appreciate the hurt, recognize that the race did not necessarily go to the swift nor the prize to the strong. There is no shame in the loss.
After failing in the 2000 U.S. presidential election in controversial circumstances- he actually won the popular vote- Al Gore would introduce himself as “ the used to be next President of the United States”. He went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize seven years later.
Admission of loss brings closure to a contest but more important, as in Gore’s case, is what is needed for a rebirth.
But for the act to be meaningful and recognized it must be done within a time period. Past that, it simply appears as an afterthought.
So losing candidates if you still have not done so, concede now, concede with grace and dignity. Then move on.