5 days ago
Sunday, June 1, 2008
How To Lose Gracefully
I like to think that I have backed more losing candidates than most. My own personal genealogy of support in the 2000 presidential campaign went something like this:
November 1999: I enthusiastically join the board of the nascent Connecticut for Paul Wellstone committee.
January 2000: Wellstone drops out, I cheerfully switch to Bill Bradley. Much campaigning ensues.
March 2000: Bradley loses badly on Super Tuesday, and the writing is on the wall. I begin migration to Al Gore, although I am privately bitter at some of Gore's dirty tricks.
Fall 2000: Somewhat reluctant, but sincere, campaigning for Al Gore. Wrote self-righteous op-eds in student paper about subject. Directed my energies towards a congressional candidate (who then lost, of course), since Connecticut was firmly Democratic for the presidential line.
November 2000: Voted happily for Al Gore. Bush won.
My pattern was most obvious in 2000, but just about every presidential election for which I was a sentient human being went down more or less like that. Jesse Jackson in 1988. Tsongas in 92. Nader in 96. Dean (with qualms) in 04. So, to summarize, I know a thing or two about how to back a losing candidate.
It sucks. No doubt about it. Most of us who worked on the Bradley campaign are still bitter about Al Gore eight years later; he can win as many Nobel prizes as he likes, but I'll always think of him as something of a jerk. There is a generation of Bradley supporters, largely people my age who were in college at the time, who checked out of active Party politics after that election. I did. So I can sympathize with Clinton's supporters, many of whom feel bitter and disempowered. I don't blame them if their heart isn't in the fall election. Losing sucks; it makes you feel both stupid and unappreciated.
But if you, dear abstract Clinton supporter, even THINK about voting for John McCain this fall....well, I'm not sure such people exist outside of the Clinton's politicking machine and the fantasies of a bloodthirsty mainstream media. But if you do exist, dear sir or madam, please ask yourself if you are supporting McCain because you like him better than Obama, or fundamentally distrust Obama, or whatever it is--or if you voting for McCain just out of spite, to make yourself feel better. If the latter is the case, well, from one loser to another, stop being so goddamn selfish.
As for me, I can say that it feels absolutely fantastic to be winning for once.