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Congratulations, Losers

Posted on 16 November 2014

It’s the day after election day. Congratulations are going out to all the winners – the new and returning mayors, councillours, and school board trustees.

This post is for the losers.

I know many of you have already made your statements, gracious and congratulatory, but I can’t imagine it doesn’t hurt. You don’t show it, but you’re wondering what went wrong. Where you might have done better.

I don’t have the answer for you. But I want to say thanks. Not just thanks for trying, but thanks for trying knowing full well you could lose. In some cases, maybe knowing full well you would lose.

This isn’t a presidential race. Losing doesn’t mean you get a book deal and a lucrative speaking tour. This isn’t the federal election where when you fail to become Prime Minister you get to be the leader of the Official Opposition. There’s no shadow cabinet posting for you. You’re done. You’re out.

For some of you, you’re out of the job you’ve been doing for the last three years. Maybe even six or nine years. You’ve been working long hours, often unpaid, to try to accomplish your goals. You’ve gotten angry letters from your fellow citizens. You’ve dealt with media calls whenever anything went wrong. You tried to balance friends and family and let’s not forget your real job because most of the time being in local government is a part-time gig.

Regardless of whether you were an incumbent or a newcomer, the last few weeks have been a grind. You’ve had to fill out candidate profiles, and official forms, and go to debates, and candi-dating and public events and I’m sure more than once you’ve wished you could just stay at home, just tonight, instead of going out to shake more hands and smile. I can’t even imagine the number of unpaid hours that have gone into these campaigns. Not to mention money. Your money. Money you earned and saved and spent, and all so you could lose.

Well, it’s over now, and you’re going to have to go back to civilian life. Maybe it’s a relief, but there’s no doubt some disappointment there, as well. “You gave it your best,” people will say. “But my best wasn’t good enough,” you may think to yourself. That’s probably how I would feel.

But you know what? Your best was good enough. Actually, your best was absolutely necessary. This is a democracy. And for all its flaws, it’s still a lot better than a lot of the alternatives. But a democracy absolutely does not function unless we have people willing to put their names forward to try and steer the whole thing. And a democracy isn’t a democracy at all unless some people wind up not getting enough votes. That’s just people showing up to take power. By showing up alongside them, you made them work for it. They had to convince people to vote for them, because you were trying to convince them otherwise. You made that happen. No one else did. There are hundreds, thousands of people in your community who didn’t even bother to vote. You did them one better. You are one of the few who was willing to put yourself out there for democracy, even if it meant it mind end like this, with you losing.

So thank you. Thank you for trying and thank you for engaging. Maybe I wanted you to lose, maybe I wanted you to win, maybe I was barely aware you existed. It doesn’t matter. I’m glad you showed up. I’m glad you tried. Thank you.

Congratulations.

Filed under: politics

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