Home » Activism 101 » What Happens When You Don’t Win?

What Happens When You Don’t Win?

I’ve never met a person who enjoys losing.  Winning is in our nature.  We desire to be superior, to prove ourselves.  Recently, when speaking to a group of College Republican leaders, I reminded them of something that is contrary to our nature.  It is okay to lose.

Work for your passion, be steadfast to your beliefs. Do not sell your soul for a win. Hold your head high, though you may lose, you walk away with your integrity and your soul.

Obviously, winning is optimal, but what do we gain from losing?

Never choose your candidate, campaign, or side of an issue based on the probability of winning.  Character matters.  Integrity and reputation are easy to destroy and nearly impossible to rebuild.  Find your passion.  I learned this lesson the hard way when I volunteered on a campaign that I wasn’t passionate about.  Explaining my support was laborious.  It sucked the life out of me.  I constantly had to convince myself that I really was doing the right thing.  I began to come up with abstract reasons as to why this campaign was important, though it was a difficult train of thought to follow.  In the end, I finally admitted to myself I wasn’t at all behind the campaign.  Was it all bad that I spent my time and energy on a campaign that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly?  Absolutely not.  It helped me better define my political philosophy.  I was able to have conversations with others regarding fundamental freedoms, hopefully helping them better understand liberty.  Perhaps I shed some light in an otherwise dark political realm and made a difference in a few lives.  I saw people begin to wake up to the truth. In the end, however, I was glad to separate from that campaign, ending the internal conflict that plagued me.  Working for your passion is always personally rewarding, no matter the outcome.

Regardless of a loss, your campaign reminds the public that you and your ideas exist.  Even if your candidate was simply a placeholder on the ballot, voters had a choice.  If we follow the logic of only running winnable candidates, voters’ choices will be severely limited and ideas stifled.  Many voters will vote for a third-party or unknown candidate simply to send a message to the political establishment.  We’re tired of the corruption.  We’re tired of the puppet candidates.  You’re guy may have name recognition, but he stands for nothing good and everything bad, and his Party affiliation doesn’t change who he is.

Campaigns of all outcomes have the power to educate the public and raise awareness of issues.  The human nature of a grassroots campaign lends itself to person to person conversations that can change hearts and minds far better than yard signs or billboards.  Awakening people to the ideas of lower or no taxes, self-government, personal sovereignty, and following the rule of law are positive steps toward growing the movement and the voter base.  With each election, liberty becomes more popular because more people have heard of it, thought about it, and talked about it.  They start understand it and crave it.

Naturally, every campaign makes mistakes.  Were volunteers plugged in quickly?  Was the legal paperwork filed accurately and on time?  Did the grassroots stay motivated and on task?  Which media worked best?  What ideas were entertained too long?  What platform issues gained the most support?  What scared voters away?  What motivated them to go to the polls and drag their neighbors with them?  What was the most effective fundraising methods?  What created the best image of the candidate?  What voter base did you expect to vote that didn’t and why?  Take the time to seriously analyze your campaign and you’ll make fewer mistakes the next time.  Don’t forget to look at the campaigns that had the unexpected win.  What did they do that pushed them over the top?

Losing never feels good, but there is much to still gain from it.  Take the time to analyze your work.  Next time, let’s win it!

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