After the Election

Although I no longer consider myself political, I’ve always found it interesting to observe the behavior of the candidate or the supporters of an issue that loses post-election. I’ve seen variations on two different responses.

  1. Our Bad – This is where the candidate or issue supporters acknowledge their loss in a dignified manner. They own the loss as their own, which is their failure to connect with voters.
  2. Your Bad – This response puts the blame on the voter for being ill-informed or being tricked by the other side. They might blame big money or the press coverage for their loss. The underlying message is that voters were too stupid to make the correct decision.

I have a lot of respect for the Our Bad group because they respect the voters. They own their loss. They learn and move on. Even if I didn’t vote for that issue or candidate, they often earn my respect and I’m more likely to be receptive to their cause in a future election.

I detest the Your Bad group. They don’t respect the will of the voters when the vote goes against them. To me, they come off as condescending and elitist. They don’t own their loss. They look for excuses and blame the voters. It is never their lack of communicating the issue that is the fault. When a candidate or cause either directly or indirectly tells me that my vote was wasted, wrong or stupid then I am far less likely to be receptive to their issue in a future election.


Photo by Clackamas County Historical Society

I’m currently reading the chapter Confidently Adaptable in the book Die Empty by Todd Henry. Although this paragraph isn’t about elections, it applies perfectly.

A confident person is willing to work through communication issues without feeling threatened with regard to the core idea being communicated. An ego-inflated person shifts the blame for communication issues to the other party, and this asserts that the problem is clearly that they’s aren’t capable of understanding the issue properly.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

The takeaway message of this post is greater than elections. When you’ve lost, accept the loss in a dignified manner. Move on. Learn from the loss. Come back better. Don’t blame the fans, referee, or the other team.


Add yours

  1. Little respect is possible today for the “will of the voters”. The only legitimate use of a voter’s will is to make known who they believe will best administrate a given body of government.

    This is not how democracy is used today.

    Instead it is a constant battle over, and endorsement of the (completely false) idea that the law is a floating abstraction — a concept open to the whims of whatever group or idea happens to be trending and dominant in a given geographical area.

    Voters today are constantly voting on what they have the power to vote on. Elections are used to determine what a government can and cannot do (through the candidate and however clever they think he or she will be), not simply determine who will operate various aspects of a government.

    This is about as objective and just as a supernaturally appointed king or queen – who happens to be a 7 year old child, with a corresponding attention span.

    This is the root of why Richard Nikoley says “You will never collectively vote your way out of collectivism.”

    The only type of vote worthy of respect at this time in history is the one that supports the removal of your own capacity to vote on things you have no right to vote on in the first place.

  2. @Anthony – I love your last sentence. For some reason it reminds me of good software development. Write code so great that it eliminates the need for the coder. Elegant and clean.

    I’ve been considering posting my current political thoughts, but it would take me several posts and thousands of words to explain how I’ve arrived where I’m at. Given the hostile environment of political debate, I don’t see value at this time in making those thoughts public.

    This post to me was a one-off on how we show respect to our fellow man, not just when they agree with our position, but when they don’t.

  3. Just found an awesome quote that fits perfectly with this post.

    “Fight as if you’re right. Listen as if you’re wrong.” – Karl E. Weick

  4. I am always amazed when you recommend a book, I can often source it from our UK library online. This one is on order now too – love the title “Die Empty”.

  5. @Pauline – Also check out his podcast Accidental Creative, which is also the name of his first book.

  6. @MAS

    Thanks. Interesting to hear the coding bit as well. I’ll remember that.

    Re political thoughts : I know how you feel. I have an entire website setup and dedicated to political and legal philosophy (declarationism dot com) but I have yet to begin using it consistently. Like you, the ideas I have in that specific are are large and complex, almost daunting.

    And on top of that, the discussion is always hostile/taxing to engage in. I believe this is due to the nature of the subject in the first place though. Unlike every other area of human life … this is the one that involves violence, making it completely dissimilar from all others at the start.

    [Inversely, every other subject every person encounters on a daily basis is a physically peaceful discussion – even when emotionally charged like fitness/nutrition].

  7. Btw, new site design looks great!

  8. @Anthony – In order to have a meaningful discussion on politics each party must go into the talk open minded enough to be willing to change their opinion. That almost never happens. So I disengage, especially on broad topics. If I do get roped into a discussion, I’ll drill down on a minor details of a point I know very well, which for me tends to be economic (QE, ZIRP, HFT). I’ll also try to move the discussion past talking points and find out what the other party knows the most about. And then listen to them.

    Glad you like the new design.

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