How To Lose

How To Lose


Leonard Zwelling

On Tuesday evening, November 2, the Houston Astros lost their chance to vindicate their tainted 2017 World Series victory. In that year, they were accused of cheating by sign stealing. Undoubtedly, for the remaining history of baseball, that World Series win will be in question. The 2017 Astros were not the 1919 Black Sox of their day, but close. Thus, all of us Astro fans were hoping that a victory in this year’s World Series would go a long way toward ending the recriminations about the 2017 season. Alas, it was not to be. The Houston bats forgot to show up and the Atlanta Braves won in six games. It is likely that the veteran Houston infield of Bregman, Correa, Altuve and Gurriel may never play together again. They have the record for most post season games as a four-man unit. Carlos Correa’s contract is up and it’s likely some other team will make him an offer he can’t refuse. This loss was bitter, but the Astros held their heads up and lost with dignity.

Also on Tuesday, November 2, Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost his bid to be the next governor of Virginia. It would have been his second term in the job in a state that does not allow the incumbent to run for a second consecutive term. Mr. McAuliffe conceded that night and was gracious in doing so. Like most political campaigns before 2020, this one was hard fought, substantive, and won fairly by Mr. McAuliffe’s opponent Glenn Youngkin.

The day after election day in 2016, Hillary Clinton conceded her defeat to Donald Trump. It was very hard for her, but she showed the class to do it anyway, even attending Trump’s inauguration beside her husband, the former president.

Why all this about gracious losing? Because up until recently, it was the American way. Al Gore had to finalize the electoral college ballots for his own presidential defeat in 2001 as he was still vice president and head of the Senate. He did his duty as did Richard Nixon in 1961 after his having lost to John Kennedy. We are a great country built on cutthroat politics and concessions by the defeated. At least we were until Donald Trump lost in 2020.

To this day, Mr. Trump has not conceded his loss to Mr. Biden. He did not attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration to hand over power as had been done for him by President Obama. Trump is still ranting about the stolen election that he lost fair and square by 7 million votes and the same margin in the electoral college that he had won by in 2016. Why does this matter?

It matters to those of us who believe that there is still a right way to conduct business, even political business, and who believe that Mr. Trump is an aberrancy in his own party born out of running against a deeply flawed candidate in Mrs. Clinton and inheriting a well running economy when he took office. To his credit, he didn’t muck it up, but he surely made a mess of our trade agreements, weakened our relations with China (although this might have been necessary), and clearly was a poor example for the young in America stoking racial unrest, misogyny, and bad behavior. Contrast Mr. Trump, not with the gracious losers, but with the new Republican winners who got there without him.

The Republican Party could be on the verge of reclaiming the federal government—partially in 2022 and fully in 2024, IF it severs relationships with Trump and runs moderate candidates who speak to the concerns of average Americans—the economy, the educational system, and crime. Mr. Biden and the Democrats are completely blowing their slim advantage by dithering over new government handouts rather than passing the real infrastructure bill that is bipartisan. (It finally passed AFTER the election defeat). All this is because a few liberal Democrats chose to act like they have a mandate when they don’t and two conservative Democratic senators don’t want to overspend.

In 2020, the Democrats were the winners—but just by a hair. They have acted since like they won a sweeping victory and in so doing snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. To their credit, the Democrats who lost last Tuesday did so graciously. But, they may have to get used to it as the future looks far brighter for the GOP than for the Democrats. Once again, the Democrats have formed a circular firing squad with Mr. Biden in the middle. They deserve to be the gracious losers once again.

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