Opinion: Politicians Who Are Gracious in Defeat Help to Unite America

Walter Rhein

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I remember a time when sportsmanship still mattered. When an individual got beat in any form of contest, he congratulated a superior opponent. Being gracious in defeat shows character. Unfortunately, integrity is in short supply these days.

The last candidate to lose a presidential election to concede graciously was Hillary Clinton back in 2016. In my opinion, you learn more about a person by how they handle adversity than by how they handle success.

Today when people lose a contest, it’s more common that they will insist they were cheated. It’s like they think they deserve a participation trophy just for being involved in the election. In my opinion, that’s the opposite of admirable behavior.

Some individuals started laying the groundwork to claim fraud before the latest election even started. In my opinion, that’s disrespectful to our country.

I’m tired of people who always want to blame everyone else for their failures. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake. However, failure to own a mistake is unpardonable.

Our country no longer seems to respect majority rule. Our country seems to no longer respect democracy. Our country no longer seems to respect the concept of a free election.

That’s sad.

When candidates lose an election it means they failed to connect with the voting public. When that happens, they have to reconsider their positions. They have to align themselves with what the people want.

It doesn't mean they can try to ram through their positions by force. That’s a mistake. That’s against everything America stands for. The American people get to make the decisions in the United States, not angry mobs.

Perhaps the next time an audience is allowed to ask a political candidate a question, we should ask that candidate to discuss his or her worst mistake. The candidates should have to acknowledge their mistakes and tell us what they learned from those mistakes.

In modern politics, admitting a mistake is likely to cost you votes. However, tolerating candidates that refuse to admit mistakes is likely to cost us much more. A candidate that can’t admit a mistake can’t grow as a decision-maker.

People who can’t admit when they are wrong are hard to endure. Everybody else ends up having to work harder to make up for their lack of accountability. Good people sometimes have to take the blame.

All the American people can do right now is cross our fingers and hope that there is no violence as a result of the 2022 midterms. Everyone is quick to acknowledge that the country is divided. However, nobody wants to take the blame for that division.

It would be nice if more Americans took personal responsibility. Even if the results are not what you want, you have to remember that you don’t have a right to pick up a weapon and engage in any form of violence. Be an example of integrity. We need good role models. We have to remember that we’re all Americans. There is no excuse for committing any form of violence against each other.

Violence creates division. Don't participate in any violent acts. There's no excuse for that. Be as gracious in defeat as you would be in victory. Be an example for your children.

Get out and vote, then stay at home and watch the results. Let’s all try to demonstrate what it means to be a decent, responsible human being. You don’t have to like the results of an election, but you don’t have any right to riot over them.

The candidates that are gracious in defeat are the ones that prove they are worthy of holding office. The same can be said of their supporters. Pay attention to how losing candidates respond, then cast your vote accordingly in the next election. You should already know how to cast your vote in this one.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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