Friday, November 6, 2020

Gracious Winning - Gracious Losing


Roger Carlton wrote this article  before election day. It is about winning and losing. He is a columnist for the Graham Star Newspaper.


Writing this week's column presents a real challenge. Timing is everything. The election voting will be over before the Graham Star appears. The election itself may not be over for weeks. The Supreme Court did not decide Bush v. Gore until December 12, 2000. Simply stated, the decision was that Florida could not do a statewide recount because the process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This was because every county in Florida utilized a different process to manage the recount. The Supreme's decision was by no means unanimous and there were more conservatives than liberals on the Court at that time.

So, this column is about winning and losing with grace and dignity. In sports this is called sportsmanlike conduct. In life, how you handle defeat may be called courage to start over or it may be called sour grapes. How you handle winning may be called gloating or it may be called bighearted. In politics winning may result in a scorched earth winner takes all scenario or a generous realization that shared power in a democracy enhances solving challenges. Where we go over the next few weeks in these polar opposite possibilities is anyone's guess.

There are many examples from which we can learn. The Lincoln Douglas debates were a series of seven verbal contests that took place in 1858. The issue plain and simple was slavery and the state's rights to decide. The debates were intense and civil. There was a dignity about the arguments that we just don't enjoy today.

Lincoln and Douglas ended up as the main Presidential candidates in the 1860 election. There were two other candidates from the Southern Democratic Party and the Constitutional Union. Lincoln won with 180 Electoral College votes against 123 for his three opponents. His inaugural speech was made after seven states had left the Union and formed the Confederacy. Steven Douglas' concession speech graciously stated "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you Mr. President."

Al Gore was gracious after the Supreme Court decision. The very act of conceding demonstrates love of Country more than love of self. Mr. Gore said " What remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside."

President Ford pardoned disgraced President Nixon. This was done because the Country needed to heal from the Vietnam conflict and from the Watergate scandal that sank Nixon's presidency. Many historians think that the pardon was a major factor in President Ford's loss of his second term election. The pardon was a selfless act.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote. She conceded by saying "We must accept this result and look toward the future. Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead." That must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

It is part of our soul as Americans to be magnanimous winners. World War II was won at great cost. We knew that it was our responsibility to rebuild a devastated world. Hence the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and the occupation of Japan which helped the former enemy to restructure their government and create a democracy. 

We can only hope that the next few weeks will demonstrate gracious winning and gracious losing.

2 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I live in hope, but have to say that so far at least graciousness is totally absent from one candidate's behaviour.
I will also add that as an outsider your Electoral College is something I find hard to understand, and it does seem to give more power to some voters than to others.

Glenda Beall said...

Roger, I so hope we see gracious losing but the news seems to show otherwise. EC, the Electoral College seems unnecessary to me, but some think it is necessary. At least this time there is no question as to who should be the next president with Biden winning the popular vote and the electoral college.

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