Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Defeat in politics can bring out the worst in us. We often insist that our opponent only won because he cheated or because he had the support of people who are either too gullible or uncritical in their approach to the election. Sometimes, people on the losing side claim they lost because people too stupid to see the issues clearly supported their opponent. Some claim that if more people had voted their candidate would have won.
The attitude is understandable. Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow.

Do the excuses make any sense? Not really.

In a recent op-ed published in the Gazette, syndicated columnist Ann McFeatters wrote this in the introduction to her post-election rant: “After the world’s most expensive election — $4 billion, Americans have made it crystal clear they haven’t a clue what to do about the nation’s problems.” It was a clever way to express the notion that the outcome of the election was decided by people who were too stupid to see what was in their best interests. In Kansas, that meant the 47% of Hispanics who voted for Sam Brownback or the 86% of self-defined conservatives who helped give him a second term. It would, by Ms. McFeatters definition, mean the 50% of college graduates or the 54% of high school graduates who voted for Sam. It would also mean that the 52% with annual incomes under $50,000 had to be dumb because they voted for Brownback. That would probably include all those fools in western Kansas who wear bib overalls and dry their laundry on clotheslines.

Were all these folks stupid? The theory reeks of elitism and contempt. Thank God the people who voted for Sam Brownback were actually much smarter than that.

Then, there’s the theory of under-participation. It goes like this. If more people had voted, they would have all voted for Paul Davis. As the National Review’s Charles Cooke recently pointed out, that argument flies in the face of thousands of years of human history. In the Roman Empire, for example, it was considered axiomatic that “Qui tacet consentire videtur (He who is silent is regarded as consenting). It was also considered axiomatic that “He who is silent, when he ought to have spoken and was able to, is taken to agree.”

The principles hold true to this day. In some traditional Christian weddings, for example, the presiding minister often says something like, “If anyone objects to this marriage, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”   

In other words, all that Davis supporters needed to do was show up at the polls and vote. But, they didn’t! They were silent. They consented with the result. Therefore, they need to hold their peace.

This nonsense line of reasoning also begs a question. Were the thousands who didn’t vote all Davis supporters? Every last voter? Or, would it be reasonable to assume that if everyone in Kansas had voted, the outcome would have been the same one we have today? You betcha!

The accusation about cheating sounds a lot like what I used to hear in barracks poker games. “How’d you manage to draw that inside straight?” My answer was almost always, “You tell me; you’re the one who dealt the cards.”

When it comes to gullibility and lack of political sophistication, the truth is, the “rubes” might just be a lot smarter and far more sophisticated than their accusers and detractors.

Losing is painful; winning is great fun. But that doesn’t mean that winning doesn’t have its pitfalls. Dancing in the other guy’s end zone is exhilarating, but there will be other elections and this year’s loser just might wind up dancing in your end zone when that time comes. If it does happen that way, accept defeat graciously and move on to the next election.

There’s one last thing. I have a bit of a bone to pick with my fellow conservatives. There’s been quite a bit written lately about what some believe to be the Gazette’s liberal bias. While I think it’s fair to say that most American media tend to lean left, I don’t think that’s the case with the Gazette. I’ve written for the Gazette for a while now. I write from a conservative point of view. I’ve never had anything I’ve written censored by Chris Walker or anyone on the Gazette’s staff. I’ve never been told by anyone at the Gazette to write or comment from a liberal perspective. I’ve been to 517 Merchant many times and I’ve never seen a “conservatives need not comment” placard there.

There’s no reason for my fellow conservatives to be angry in victory. We won! The Gazette really did their very best to keep the public informed in an unbiased manner.  Besides, if there was any bias (I honestly didn’t see it) in this election cycle, we overcame it. The best thing we can do now is a brief end zone dance and move on to the next election. 

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