If Your Candidate Doesn’t Win
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
In the lead-up to Election Day, pressures are running high, on both sides of the aisle. People are tense, whether it’s on the road, in the grocery store, or at the dinner table. We at Primerrily want to reassure you -- and your kids -- that our political system is greater than any one person or political election. So take a deep breath and read on, Neighbor.
You may be surprised to hear this: the world will not end if your vote -- that is, if your presidential, down-ticket candidate, or ballot amendment -- loses. Said another way,
the country is not doomed if your unfavored candidate or policy wins. Thankfully, we live in a country that is governed first and foremost by laws -- not by the whims of whomever is in power. We have checks and balances built into our governing system: the elected Executive Branch is checked and balanced by the Judicial and Legislative Branches. Similarly, the elected Legislative Branch is checked and balanced by the Judicial and Executive Branches. Layered onto that, federal terms of office mean, for instance,
the Presidential seat in the Executive Branch is up for election every four years (with a maximum of two four-year terms). The Congressional seats in the Legislative Branch are up for election every two years (for Representatives) and six years (for Senators).
Sure, if your candidate loses, your “policy preferences” will suffer some blows. Your pick may have lost, but your hope and confidence in this country should not be. Moreover, it’s important that it not be, especially for your kids’ sense of perspective, future participation in civic life, and kickball field decorum.
Case in point: I was elated at the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. I was in college, and though I wish I could have attended the celebration party, I instead accompanied a sick friend to a campus clinic. I remember thinking it was a bummer to miss out on the party, but my friend needed me, and re-elected President Bush didn’t need me in quite the same way. The next day, I went to classes as usual, and honestly, didn’t think a lot more about politics until I moved to D.C. in 2007 in the lead-up to the next election.
On that 2008 election night, I was distraught over the outcome. Coincidentally, I attended a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery the day after Obama was elected president. As I watched the riderless horse walk somberly toward the grave, I distinctly remember thinking how tragically symbolic that ritual was as we mourned the loss of a great America(n). That is, until some time had passed, my emotions quelled, and I regained a sense of perspective. I realized that while the war hero had passed away, America had not. My side may have gotten knocked down, but Americans are all about getting back up. Lady Liberty was still holding her torch high. Lady Freedom was still standing tall atop the U.S. Capitol. And this lady had some growing up to do.
Lady Liberty was still holding her torch high. Lady Freedom was still standing tall atop the U.S. Capitol. And this lady had some growing up to do.
I learned to place my confidence in America’s political system and the ingenious process our Founders created in the U.S. Constitution, not the candidate du jour. “Losing” also made me stand up more for my views. I kept my McCain-Palin bumper sticker on my car even when we moved to Palo Alto, CA (people in the Whole Foods parking lot would actually take pictures of the exotic specimen that was my car!). I spoke up more in my graduate school courses at Stanford when I felt liberal bias. The party’s “loss” turned out to be a personal gain of sorts -- I was convicted to speak up all the more and let others know there was more than one way to think, especially in northern California.
So given these experiences, consequent perspectives, and our unwavering patriotism, below is what my husband and I are telling our kids. Depending upon your presidential pick, you can easily change out the names.
We hope Trump wins. We believe he is the better candidate to lead America. But if Biden wins and Trump loses, we will hold our heads high, we will congratulate the winners,
and we will think of new ways to communicate our ideas. We will be okay. Our political system is stronger than any one politician; our country is stronger than any one political party. In our family’s case, we believe Heaven, not an American utopia, is our final goal. Still, while we’re on this earth, we won’t let whatever political party is in power dictate who we are and what we believe. We won’t stop standing for our principles. Voting is just one way to voice our beliefs; we also have free enterprise, philanthropy, raising families, and the unglamorous but proven method of humble living and leading by quiet example. Mama and Daddy will continue supporting the causes we care about in these other equally important ways -- and again when we get to vote in 2022. And no matter who our president turns out to be, he deserves our respect because the U.S. Constitution deserves respect. The Constitution was here before the president, and it will still be here after he -- or, one day, she -- leaves office. The Constitution -- not the president -- is the “law of the land.” This is just one of the things that makes America great, and in which we can have confidence for the future, regardless of who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Constitution -- not the president -- is the “law of the land.”