(Full disclosure: I wrote this blog entry shortly after the November election. Now that today is Inauguration Day and, for better or for worse, people are accepting -I use this term loosely- of our new political reality, I would like to offer up my sociological perspective on the election. That said, I am quite certain I will have my fair share of disagreement. By way of introduction I want to share with you a recent social media post I shared that reaffirms my sentiments from November. “I find it affirming when really intelligent people, with whom I may overall agree or disagree with on certain issues, articulate (far more eloquently) sentiments that I have been espousing for years. As a balance theorist, I love former global Islamist Maajid Nawaz idea that, ‘The easiest way to hand a victory to your political opponent is by doing in excess the very thing that is going to fuel their rise, providing them to things to point to, to say we told you so.’ Welcome to the planet, 2017.” Now to the blog…)
What does a marathon, the 1969 Super Bowl and the 2016 Presidential election have in common?
Before this article begins sounding like a bad “Freakonomics” chapter, let me explain.
I was never much of a runner until I hit my mid-20’s, and my weight hit the mid-200’s, when I realized that running was the most expedient and easily accessed exercise ever invented. With only a good pair of running shoes necessary, there was no fancy equipment, gym membership or uniform needed. Hell, you did not even have to rely on anyone to make this sport happen, just an open road and an agreeable, operable set of legs.
I started running circa 1992, started competitive racing a couple of years later, dropped around 40 lbs., and firmly self-identified as a runner. It was circa 1997 that I decided I was going to attempt my first marathon; that is, 26.2 miles of foot pronation (supination?…its been a while) as I dysfunctionally struck pavement for well over 3 hours. Prior to this I went and asked an old friend of mine, Dave Delong, a marathon runner himself and an esteemed track coach, what his advice would be for a new marathon runner.
He never skipped a beat:
“Simple. Respect the race.”
“26.2 miles is a long distance. Respect every mile, every inch,” he told me, “Or the race can eat you alive.”
He meant that you might feel great at mile 21 or 23 or 25 and think that you got this…that you have beaten this race into submission.
Respect the race, he told me. Respect that 26.2 miles is a very long distance. Respect the last few miles, respect the last few feet as at any time, the race can come back and bite you in the ass as one could hit the dreaded wall at any time. It is only then one realizes the nature of the foe you are attempting to defeat.
I never better understood the concept of respecting your opponent better than after my first few marathons. Dave was so absolutely correct that it taught me one of the best lessons I could have learned in life, let alone racing: Always respect the nature of your opponent….no matter how superior you think you might be.
I could not help but think of all the times in sports history when the David killed the Goliath due to this lack of respect, yet I will not bore you with sports trivia…though trust me, it is common. Be it the 69 Super Bowl, Ronda Rousey or the 2016 Warriors in the finals…one must unrelentingly respect the race till it’s over.
So, alas, fast forward to the 2016 Presidential election.
Apparently some never have learned the simple value to “respect the race,” in this case, the presidential race. Please understand I am not suggesting you must respect the person, just as much as I am not suggesting you must respect the particular landscape or city of a particular race; rather, respecting the race is to respect the nature of the race, respecting the competition of the race, respecting the importance of the race, and to humbly realize the race is greater than you and to succeed begins with humility towards the race. After all, the goal is to win -nothing more, nothing less.
If ever there was a time in political history where the overwhelming favorite entirely disrespected its opponent, to its own deficit, it was the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s chance of winning usually hovered around 25%, pending which poll was taken after which ill- advised statement was made Trump.
Among those who utterly dismissed and disrespected their opponent (if you have a few minutes please watch this video…it is fascinating) and who should know better include President Barack Obama -the guiltiest of all parties as his disrespect set the tone for a Trump victory; Bernie Sanders –and Bernie is so much better than this; Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader who needs control of her tongue; Ron Reagan Jr., Harry Reid, Mark Cuban, Bob Beckel and nearly every leading political pundit in the soundbite world.
Some of those who stuck their egotistical foot in their arrogant mouths who are well known, yet whose only qualification is popularity, include George Clooney, Tom Hanks (“That man will become president of the United States the day space ships come down with dinosaurs and men with red capes”…whoops), nearly every late night comedian and the loudest of mouths on The View.
Anyone who even remotely suggested that Donald J. Trump would be our next president was laughed out of the building (please see Anne Coulter getting mocked and scorned at 2:00 in the linked video above, on the Bill Maher show, Politically Incorrect). Please watch as we can learn a thing or two about hubris gone wild.
Donald Trump was not only predicted to lose, he was mocked and laughed at by a, quite smug, untold millions more…in a strange twist, he was absolutely bullied and humiliated by those who should really know better. I suppose it was ok to bully the bully….but, then, you can see where that got us. The point the smug left forgot is that when bashing Trump you were bashing his supporters, calling them ignorant idiots—problem is their votes count just as much as anyone else’s.
If the American electorate could teach ANY politician just one critically important lesson, it is that the American public always finds and locates the middle ground…and stays there. If one side pushes too hard in one direction, the public will overcompensate in the other direction. The left bully pulpit, led by 8 years of Obama, just got a little too big for its political britches.
Did it seem odd to anyone, other than myself, that those who were anti-Trump felt free and safe to be mean, disrespectful, and outspoken (the President very much included…see President Obama on the Jimmy Kimmel “Mean Tweets”… bad choice Barack) while the general Trump supporters, sans those diehards at political rallies and few extremists, remained generally quiet and reserved to openly express their support for fear of being ostracized via social media and otherwise?
It seems those who were bullied quietly went to the principal’s office (the voting booth) to report the bullies…and they won.
It seems the left forgot the very important lesson to respect the race…to respect the office of the opponent…to be gracious until such time there is something to gloat over, namely victory.
A few days after Trump’s infamous secret recording came out about how he just grabs women by the, ah, “kitty,” a presidential debate commenced. Not realizing Trump’s words were obviously offensive, inappropriate, and quite unpresidential all on their own accord, Clinton felt the need to explain, as if we did not know already, just how wrong those comments were…thanks Hillary, yeah, we get it.
I was so hoping, when asked about these comments, she would take the high road and respond that those comments speak for themselves and the American public will decide how to interpret those lewd comments, now let’s get back to the issues.
You all tried to beat a bully by being a bully. Damn…don’t ya hate when hubris bites you in the ass?
As we adjust to 4 years that will bring a new meaning to the term, “bully pulpit,” I will be out on a run, respecting each step I am able to respectfully take.
Jimmy I definitely agree with your analogy. We have to respect our opponent and never understimate them. However, please do not generalize and say that we all tried to beat the bully by being a bully. I have plenty of friends, who I consider good people, who voted for Donald Trump and I do not treat them any different. I know that people form their own ideas based on their previous experiences, and I try to keep this in mind to understand why my friends do not agree with me. A great professor once told me, “It all starts with a conversation.” We just need to express our ideas in a respectful manner, in order to understand what the other person is thinking and hopefully have a little more compassion for one another.
Thank you so much for the comment Celene. You know me better than to think I believe ALL anti-Trump people were bullies….hell, why would I think that as I was an anti-Trump person?? I believe I provided excellent examples of some very high profile “bullies” (or at the very least “arrogant sons of bitches”….the former president included) though certainly not all were…..but there was quite a large contingent. I like the sentiment of the conversation idea as I wish more people approached issues with that sense of openness and reason. Thank you again Celene!
I agree with your sentiment that we need to “respect the race.” I’m not a fan of Pres. Trump, however, I respect the position he is in. It is difficult for me to speak to the bullying. I saw it on both sides in the media. But, in my personal life I didn’t see bullying by or to my friends and family.
I am consistently disappointed by those who lead our country because of their inability to rise above mere humanity.
Our leaders should be “better people” than the rest of us plebs, and if they can’t be, they shouldn’t be leading. Wouldn’t you agree?
“Better people?” I would settle for simply being emotionally stable!
I agree with you completely. During the campaign my thoughts mirrored yours as I watched opponents and pundits discuss his lack of any chance at all of success and watched my friends and neighbors become stronger and stronger in their support of him with each opposition put down. I was pretty sure he would do quite well and, because I could not support the Democratic Party, opted to vote third party (not the one I truly supported because they did not make the ballot here in Texas), hoping against hope that enough folks would be so turned off by the bullying on both sides that they too would vote third party. Well, that did not happen and so we shall see what we shall see. Perhaps in four years both major parties will fail to respect the race and we will be pleasantly surprised by a true non-political choice. We can only hope.
Don….you agreed with me! That is a damn near first without any caveats. 🙂 I believe we on the coasts have an extremely difficult time understanding middle America’s perspective. Rusted out factories? In Los Angeles we do not even know what that means. On a far lesser scale, if you think back to the 92 election, this kid, Bill Clinton, philanderer and playboy (many anti-Trumpers hate to be reminded of that little fact when condemning Trump) stood little to no chance very early on in the election year. However, between Bush’s “Read my lips, no new taxes” and Clinton’s nearly inexplicable charm with female voters, he won in a race that was once seemingly against all odds. Thank you for your contribution Don, and your Texas perspective.
I was browsing through videos of the Women’s march and found this gem.
It’s a prime example of the left demonizing the right. Now I know Ashley Judd doesn’t speak for all liberals, but it’s this kind of rhetoric that prevents a useful and productive dialogue from taking place. For example she mentions electroshock gay conversion which could potentially be a valid talking point. However when it’s lumped in with “cheeto dust, toupee wearing Hitler Trump” those on the right who might have agreed with you on the gay conversion therapy don’t want to hear what’s coming out of your mouth. This is completely in line with the bully mentality of calling people sexist, racist, misogynistic, and all the -phobics under the sun. A conservative commentator I like says that he hopes the left continues to speak out in this way because it will cause them to keep losing. While I myself align as more conservative, and the idea of leftists continuing to lose might seem ideal, I don’t find this kind of rhetoric to be beneficial to anyone. It alienates the right by insulting them, encourages the extremists on the left to continue this hateful speech, and drowns out beneficial messages that the left could bring up. Needless to say with the political atmosphere and our new President it should be an interesting year 2017.
Spot on Chris. I really thank you for sharing this point of view. Personally, I do not have a political “team” as I find myself examining issues first and foremost, not what the right or left position might be. I am definitely not a conservative or liberal, I truly think (and those who know me well can vouch for this) an objective critic who feels no burden to promote an agenda, other than the agenda of critical thinking. I really love just studying people and movements. I really like your idea that this rhetoric is beneficial to no one as we need different sides of a political spectrum to converse so we can come to the best conclusions. When either the right or left goes nuts it is definitely not good for the entire process. I heard a really interesting argument today that the liberal progressive movement will be dying out in the next couple decades because these people are not reproducing and having children….unlike the more conservative right. If we buy into the idea that the apple never falls too far from the tree, this can be very troubling as I really want liberal and progressive thought forms in our cultural conversation.
Insofar as Ashley Judd (and Madonna, et. al.) these people are so out of touch with middle America it is almost comical. Have these dumbasses never heard of the fallacy of ad hominem attacks? Then again, their hero, Barack Obama, essentially did the same thing in his pre-election treatment of Trump. I will stop ranting now!! 🙂
Not respecting the race was just one of the big mistakes that the Democrats made in the 2016 presidential election. There is a laundry list of political factors that contributed to the outcome, but the subtle one’s are still doing their undermining work, and that’s the part that really gets too me. “He who should not be named,” (because the media is grinding that gear to dust) is correct on enough points that those issues are not completely wrong, and trying to completely discredit all his statements is where they falter in their response.
He’s correct about the media being “fake news”, but not for the reasons he’s declared, and not completely fake, however, yes definitely, we don’t get the news anymore. Hour after hour is devoted to opinion and speculation; and though they may have experts making good points, they are still just speculating. The media was extremely complicit in his victory, because they fed the viewers what they wanted not what they needed. CNN even acknowledged their mistakes in a program dedicated to pointing out exactly what they did wrong, and led to an entire show talking about the divide – The Messy Truth with Van Jones –Jones mentions how they poorly handled the election coverage, yet they went right back to doing what they were doing before because they can’t remember how to correctly and impartially report the news anymore.
The other thing that they didn’t respect, other than the possible outcome of the race itself, which they assumed was already won, was what his win as the Republican Nominee represented; and the media and political left keeps expressing their lack of respect in their coverage of “you know who.” CNN has turned into TMZ with a political twist, and it’s difficult to take them seriously at all anymore.
As each side keeps pushing back, harder and blindly, the gap between parties grows as they push themselves away from the middle ground, and there’s no place to stand together.
You are correct on their being a lack of respect spoiling the political arena today, and it goes much deeper. It appears that we don’t respect the media, we don’t respect the political process, we don’t respect politicians (at least I don’t) and when we join one side or the other we don’t respect the other half; yet I catch myself doing the same thing, pushing myself away from the middle, to the point of avoiding saying the word – Trump.
Rob…I really need people like yourself to contribute to this blog effort. Your voice is reasonable and your writing eloquent. I so appreciate your contributions. I have been thinking a lot about both the right and left recently in terms of both sorely lacking critical thinking skills. Both my far left and far right friends never EVER sway from the party line. They are SO predictable. What are the odds of agreeing with your party on everything, all the time? Any person who analyzes each issue on their own merit and comes out 100% in step with their party cannot possible be intellectually honest. It seems the extremes are unwilling to concede when the other (a word I do not care for as it creates an us vs them mentality) has got something right. Thanks again Rob…I could not agree with you more.