Chaplain Norris Burkes: Prepare to lose
Your favored man is going to lose this presidential race – at least that’s the statistical probability for about half of those reading today’s column.
The loss may well send you into distress, despair, and disappointment as you endure hoots, hollers and honking horns from the winning side.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Election losers needn’t join an apocalyptic chorus of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Losers needn’t behave like, well, LOSERS!
In an election where opponents are disparaged as losers, it may be helpful to recall the 2008 concession speech delivered by John McCain. The classy discourse showed us not just how to survive a political loss, but how to encourage all Americans to thrive.
McCain began by conceding that “the American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.” He endorsed Barak Obama as the “president of the country that we both love.”
The Arizona senator praised his opponent for “inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president.”
Speaking five years before Black Lives Matter, McCain declared that Americans “…must recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.”
The former POW possessed a full understanding of “wounds” as he urged all Americans “… to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”
McCain admitted that “It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.”
Referring to his loss, McCain told supporters, “And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.” The audience didn’t agree that he was at fault and gave him friendly boos. He dropped his palms downward to quiet the crowd.
He continued for several paragraphs thanking family, friends and “…the American people for giving me a fair hearing.”
But it was the power I heard in closing remarks that moved me to tears.
McCain was no loser when he said, “I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.
“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
“Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Sen. Obama, I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.”
The humble senator recognized that he and his opponent “… had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.” But, in the end McCain pledged to President-elect Obama “…to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.”
Closing with “I call on all Americans,” McCain said, “… to not despair of our present difficulties but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America….”
Our losing candidate and his supporters can find no better guidance for the American people than McCain’s final words to losers.
“Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America.
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