I’m getting that pre-election jitters, that sense of not being able to depend upon the intelligence and sense of doing the right thing from my fellow Americans, coupled with wondering how much further Repugnicatans will go to cheat their way to victory with their voter suppression, gerrymandering and other low tactics. And just why don’t these people get sent to jail or tried for treason, undermining the very foundation of democracy?
I’m already lining up my strategies to survive the worst or keep momentum going with the best and what this brings up is a larger question of determination. Because the deal is, be it politics or relationships or one’s own personal journey towards the dream that is calling, winning can strengthen or weaken one’s resolve, losing can strengthen or weaken one’s resolve.
Take Obama’s victory. It was sweet beyond human articulation when Obama won in 2008 and again in 2012, but after the big build-up to change the tide of American history, I—along with so many others—relaxed too early and felt, “Okay, he’ll take care of it.” Meanwhile, the Tea Party was hard at work doing everything they could to undercut him and it turns out, they accomplished quite a lot while the rest of us took some time off.
But winning also empowers us, encourages us, affirms us, helps us feel that we’re on the right side of history and that indeed, the momentum of evolution is pushing the moral arc toward justice. So it can embolden us to keep going, encourage us to keep moving down that path, side by side with others who have struggled to see these needed victories come to pass. That very word “en-courage” means to further feed our courage to keep fighting and working toward a world better than the one handed to us, ready to face the many obstacles put in our way.
On the other side, loss after loss does indeed dispirit so many of us and we need some affirmation from the world that our work is paying off and our dreams are worthy. After knocking for so long, we need that door to open. “Dis-spirit” means weakening our spirit of determination and that is real. Even if we keep working, we feel wounded by the world’s refusal to agree with what’s right and it saps our energy and hurts our soul.
But loss can also strengthen our determination, like the wrestler Antaeus in the Greek myth who fought Hercules. Every time Hercules threw him to the ground, the contact with Mother Earth strengthened him and he rose up stronger than before. (Hercules caught on and only defeated him by holding him over his head until he weakened.) So when life or politics throws us down, we have the possibility of rising up yet stronger and more determined to persevere.
If the best happens and the midterms overturn the stranglehold Republicans have on American politics, let us remember to keep the momentum going. To enjoy the momentary sweet taste of a needed victory and then keep working yet harder to preserve our democratic institutions at their best. If the worst happens and the Trump cronies determination to dismantle democracy continues unchecked, let’s remember Antaeus and rise up stronger and yet more resolved to work harder and knock louder on that closed door to our humanitarian promise. Either way we will persevere.
But it sure would be sweet to see this house of mean-spirited cards begin to topple. VOTE!!!