In 2012, my son’s school, in an attempt to foster interest in the Democratic process, held an election for school mascot. After a heated runoff in which the butterfly and ladybug lost out to be the hedgehog and the owl, the campaign began in earnest. Students chose sides, making posters and giving speeches on behalf of their candidates.
My son was a huge supporter of the obviously superior owl..
But in a devastating blow, his classmates chose the hedgehog (seriously- what is wrong with America??).
My son came home miserable- feeling depressed and betrayed by people he thought he could trust.
He said that he was just going to pretend that the owl won and that in his mind he would always see the owl as the mascot.
I was disturbed by his comment. I kindly explained to him that though I understood his disappointment, that is not the way elections work.
In a democracy, I explained, the majority wins. And those who lose must submit to the will of the majority and perhaps redouble their efforts to explain to the public the wisdom of their own plans. I suggested that by reason and logic one could persuade such that in the next election, your side could emerge victorious. (My son did correctly point out that this was not an option in his case because there would be no future elections. This election I fear we might be in a similar space).
My son suggested that I didn’t understand. I assured him that I did. It was election day 2012. And I told him that I had voted for President Obama and that I deeply hoped that Obama would win but that there was a chance that he would lose and that Mitt Romney would be president. Though I would be unhappy with that result, I told my son, I would have to accept it and that like it or not, Mitt Romney would be my president.
My son wondered how we could actually accept a Romney presidency. I explained to my 9-year-old that we would have to- that his election would simply mean that we had to do a better job of explaining the vision we had for our country. I told him that it would not be fun. I told him I had been a Democrat under George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. But, I said, that is the nature of a democracy. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.
I explained to my son that every four years we get to choose our government, and if we disagree with the choices of our fellow citizens, we have 4 years to make our case that they should choose a new one (and in fact, they could begin that process every 2 years.).
My 9-year old reluctantly accepted this civics lesson. It is a lesson I fear that Republicans never learned.
Sometimes the hedgehog wins. And the owl needs to accept that for the good of all.