Few things are worse in the political arena than working tirelessly for months, for yourself, a cause, or a candidate in whom you believe, only to find that the votes didn’t go your way.
It doesn’t matter if it was 70-30, 60-40, or 49-51. A loss is a loss.
Whether it’s because you were outspent, outworked, you were too positive, you were too negative, you were too young, you’d been there too long, you got in the race too late, you peaked too early, you focused on the wrong issues, turnout was low, turnout was higher than expected, or any other reason that someone offers you the morning after, your heart is a little bit…or maybe even a lot of bit…broken.
If it isn’t, you worked for the wrong candidate.
I know this because I’ve been on both sides – all sides. I’ve been on the losing team when we deserved to win and the losing team when we deserved to lose. I’ve also been on the winning team when we deserved to win and even when we didn’t. All evoke a different kind of emotion, but an emotion nevertheless because you hopped on board because you care.
Campaigning is probably one of the most exhilarating and simultaneously toxic activities in American culture. There are highs and lows, so many good people, and so much uncertainty. I always joke that you have to be a little bit mental to enjoy it because who thinks it’s fun to play a (usually unfriendly) game of, “Is the person telling you the truth when they say they’ll vote for you? I don’t know – let’s wait a few months and find out.”
For me, I always like the definitive aspect of campaigning and elections. Much like my job with AllOnGeorgia, campaigning places you in a position where people will either stand with you or against you. They will either defend you or they will tear you down. They will take sides and, for the end of time, you will forever know where they stand. Campaigns bring out the best and the worst of people and I find it to be refreshing to know who stands with the best and who will publicly stand with the worst.
And if you’re competitive, invested, or just honest, you probably associate “loss” with “loser,” but the two are not the same. A loss means you didn’t win, but “a loser” is a mentality, a state of life, a quality of character – or lack thereof. Those who stand for what they believe, no matter what the cost, are never losers.
I know a lot of winners who lost last night around this state…and a lot of “losers” who won. [Don’t take that to mean no good people won, that’s certainly not the case either.]
Knowing and understanding all of that may not take away where you are emotionally.
You may be angry with the people around you right now, and in some cases, it may be justified. You may have been the center of a smear campaign, as it seems those are becoming more and more popular around our state. It may have been your husband or wife that was tarnished – even in a victory – and that isn’t something you wake up and no longer resent. You may just be angry that you told the truth and it went unheard. Or that you did as you believed only to learn that isn’t what others believe. That you’re a minority.
But while you’re the minority, you aren’t alone. It’s the old adage of quality over quantity.
My boss has always told me, “Not everyone will support you, but the right ones always will.”
Read that again: The right ones always will. So don’t let them down by seeing yourself as a “loser” or carrying yourself as one. The right ones stood with you for a reason.
Because the most definitive aspect of campaigning is how it defines you. Are you defined by a political candidate or a career yourself? Is politics the most important thing you’ll do with your life?
For most of you, that answer is a resounding no.