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November 19, 2012

Learning for One’s Mistakes

Derek Shackelford

I must acknowledge I have stayed away from writing about presidential politics intentionally. I have stayed engaged in following the various campaigns by reading newspapers and blogs, participated in dialogues through social media and discussed it in various platforms among my circle of friends and colleagues.


While people were passionate about for whom they were voting, what they believed in and why they believed in it, the fallacy of information that was sometimes exchanged actually says more about us than it actually does the candidates.


We seem to believe anything without checking facts but becoming comfortable in opinions more so to validate what we believe whether it is wrong or right. People like the right to have freedom of speech. but it may appear that no one wants the right to be held accountable for what they say.


With that being said, we now have a winner. President Barack Obama has been re-elected. This could constitute an electoral landslide victory by a count of 332 to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 206. The popular vote was 50.1% to 48.4% with the president winning by a margin of 2.7 million votes.


So, on one side was a celebratory atmosphere while on the other disappointment. A president who appeared to be vulnerable with an economy in flux, a foreign policy uncertainty with the Benghazi situation, and a poor performance in the first presidential debate, one would think the sitting president may be in trouble. This election proved somewhat different.




…because what many of us knew all along: the demographics have changed. That’s right; whether one wants to come to grips with it or not, the voting demographics and political ideology of America has somewhat changed. It was as if everyone else knew that changes had taken place except the Republican Party, which, on a national level, was the last to get the memo.


The Republican Party continually looks backward. Just watch how many times the name Ronald Reagan is mentioned and the nostalgic view of longing for the next President Reagan. To paraphrase basketball coach Rick Pitino in the political context: “Ronald Reagan is not walking through that door.”


The question could even be asked, Would Ronald Reagan be even considered a staunch conservative in today’s ideological context by the current platform and leaders of the Republican Party?


Even after losing the presidential election, the party appears to continually shoot itself in the proverbial foot. Comments such as “people only voted for President Obama because they wanted free stuff.” “This election now means the demise of America.” All of this was said as if people are not intelligent enough to make a conscious decision on who exactly they wanted to occupy the Oval Office for another four years. It’s as if the only wise ones were the people who voted for Governor Romney.


This type of conversation and rhetoric does not help the cause or even attract people to the respective parties. What is even more interesting is that previously New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was at one time a favorite of the party and who delivered the keynote address at the GOP Convention in Tampa (FL), by the election’s end was labeled a traitor because he was supportive of the president following Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of his state.


There is much to learn from this political cycle. As in sports, when a team loses, evaluations are needed to see what did not work and what will not work and lessons that should be learned in how to improve so that the mistakes previously committed will not prevent the team from winning the next contest.


If those lessons are not learned, then losing becomes the norm and people will adjust to it. So, it appears that the Republican Party has become adjusted to losing nationally because they keep repeating the same mistakes by repeating the same rhetoric.


The flip side is that the Democratic Party should not become arrogant or haughty about occupying the White House and holding the majority in the Senate. If you become complacent and take people – or winning – for granted, then in the future you may find yourself scratching your head wondering what happened.


Do not make the future of politics simply about identity – make sure it is about ideas. While it may be true one can learn more lessons in losing than winning, the more one hears the Republican Party articulate its recent election reflections – it appears they have not learned very much.


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