Here’s to the losers
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Yesterday, obviously, there were elections. In elections you get winners, and many of those political winners were winners for the first time. I hope some students from Notre Dame got to be part of those campaigns, especially the first-time winners. Congratulations to all of those affiliated with any of the winners. I hope you have the ability to savor your win and truly take it in. There are few feelings better than the culmination of a year (or more) of work coming to fruition and the principles you believe in winning out. Sincerely, I hope it was a very positive experience, and that you’ll stay in politics because of feelings like this. But I’m not worried about you.
I’m a loser. When I lost my campaign two years ago for student body Vice President running alongside Bill Christy, one of the best men I know, it didn’t feel good. Devoting the same amount of work and time the winners put in and having nothing to show for it really hurts. While I wish everyone on campus went and worked for winners this cycle, I’m sure some did not, and this is for them.
I hope that anyone who worked for a loser, or lost in any way yesterday, stays with politics. You fought for a cause you believe in. I hope you continue to fight for that cause, whatever it may be, because it’s still a worthy one. Politics needs more resilience today — that resilience comes from losing. Abraham Lincoln was fighting a very worthy anti-slavery cause when he lost the 1858 senatorial race in Illinois. He kept fighting after a loss. In fact, many of the most successful politicians have experienced losing. To find the last U.S. president to never have lost an election, general or primary, you have to go all the way back to John Kennedy. Learning from mistakes in politics and becoming a better and stronger politician are skills most effectively learned from being a loser a few times.
I hope you stay with it. The fortitude, strength of character and grace you’ve shown up to this point — and hopefully will continue to show — is precisely the standard to which we want to hold our elected officials and those who work for them. Political courage isn’t running uncontested; it’s going into adversity and tirelessly working despite the difficulty of the task at hand. Don’t get jaded, don’t wallow. Instead, hold the winners accountable for the promises they made.
Politics needs people like you who stand up to failures, people who keep fighting instead of continually accepting the new normal. We can always do better. Please keep fighting for your cause as long as you believe in it. In the words of Winston Churchill, you’re a winner: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Keep that enthusiasm because politics needs you.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.