Monday, November 10, 2014

On Losing & the Elections

I know how Tim feels. But he doesn't get much practice

I hate losing. I hate losing basketball games. I hate losing trials and appeals. I hate losing elections. Basketball games are just that—games. I can get over it (eventually). Trials and appeals involve much more: disappointed clients, perhaps a financial setback, and a toll on the psyche by way of a loss of self-confidence and the attendant rise of self-doubt. And losses in some elections are also vexing. Elections can have a stake well beyond my ego or my personal interest. Elections shape our collective future, not definitively, but significantly. The outcomes of elections often arise from the most appalling of causes. Our collective future rests in the hands of a cognitive equivalent of a drunk driver. 

Will the Republic survive the election of No-Nothing* majority in both houses of Congress? Probably. We survived Bush. But all of this does dismay me. We have significant issues in front of us, such as global climate change with the challenges that it entails and the continued legalized corruption of our political system. Iowans (not this one!) elected a Koch Brothers' candidate purchased with millions in contributions and whose stance on global climate change is standard issue head-in-the-sand. 

Perhaps I'm all fired-up about nothing. That's the common attitude: "It's all a bunch of just politics anyway. Who cares? They're all full of shit." I wish that I could believe that. “Damn you Learning for leading me to believe these things important!” Philosophy and popular opinion have been at war in the West since the demos put Socrates to death in Athens centuries ago. No wonder Socrates' student Plato had such a jaundiced view of democracy. 

I've been on the losing side of elections since I campaigned for Richard Nixon in 1960 (yes, I campaigned—in my second-grade way—for Nixon). Later it was Norman Erbe for governor, Bill Scranton for the Republican presidential nomination, Goldwater for president, and so on. On and on. Maybe I should campaign for the candidate I want to lose. I even debated for Goldwater in 1964 in front of my 6th grade class only to lose decisively in the vote of my classmates—in a county that was one of only six that voted in favor of Goldwater in Iowa that year. Wow. No wonder I have an interest in persuasion: I don't have a good track record, do I? Chalk up another loss. 

So what do I do now? I'll listen to the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh and to Stravinsky's Firebird, waiting for the Finale that prompts me to think of the firebird as a phoenix that rises from the ashes. It works after basketball games (well, back in the day), after losing cases, and after losing elections. It reminds me that although I'm bummed and discouraged, so much more so the candidates who gave it their all, the men and women in the arena who fought the good fight in front of a mostly unknowing and unappreciative audience. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and climb back into the saddle, like a cowboy tossed into the dust by an buckin' bronc'. It hurts, but you gotta do what gotta do.
We'll be back. 

*I can't bear to refer to them as Republicans. The heirs of Lincoln, TR, Ike—hell, even Nixon—not to mention other outstanding leaders? No, they have gone too far to deserve the designation. They are RINOs to me, body-snatchers who have taken a name but who refuse the mantle of the heritage.

No comments: