Last night, shortly after the polls closed and the results of both state and federal elections became clear, a friend sent me a message stating that she felt “cheated.” This morning, many other friends describe their electoral losses in emotional terms of sadness and dismay.
Many years ago, after being particularly surprised by an election loss, I learned not to get too emotionally involved in electoral politics, and this is the advice that I gave my friend last night and continue to give to friends today. The truth is that after every election, the sun still rises the next morning.
This doesn’t mean that elections shouldn’t be taken seriously. After all, in last week’s post, I urged everyone to follow the wise words of Justin Dart and,
Vote as if your Life Depended on it…Because it Does.
However, too many of us give up more power to politicians than they deserve. After all, despite a wave of conservative Republican victories at the polls yesterday, we are living in an era of unprecedented progressive political and cultural change. Consider the following dramatic progress that could not have been imagined even one generation ago:
- The election and re-election of an African-American president;
- 32 states have legal same sex marriage;
- 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized either medical marijuana or marijuana generally.
These are not mere electoral or political shifts. They signify monumental progressive cultural change which will not be undone by a particular party winning a particular election.
It is also important to remember that in our democracy, no political victory is permanent. While those who bask in the glow of electoral victory are quick to claim a mandate, they do so at great risk, as they may be in the minority after the next election cycle. Similarly, those who lose elections need to take time to reassess the reasons why they lost and take responsibility for factors they can change. Good leaders who continue to fail to accomplish goals understand that it is time for someone else to take leadership. It will be interesting to see whether Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid recognize this in Congress, or whether leaders of the Democratic Party in states such as Wisconsin recognize that it is time for new people with fresh ideas to take control after repeated electoral defeats.
For me, I got up this morning, meditated, ate breakfast, walked my dog, and continued to do my job. After all systems change does not happen in a moment or a day, but involves a complex series of steps, occasionally sideways or backwards, but always knowing that forward momentum is the nature of the world.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.