Election loss should be motivation

By John Payne

Since the election, we’ve all probably heard friends, peers, or leaders telling us not to give up hope. They are telling us that this is just one setback, that we must keep up the fight, and that we will eventually win the struggle for equality and justice. While I agree that the struggle for true justice and equality in this country, and all over the world, indeed goes on, I disagree with the view that our triumph is inevitable. Those of us who have decided to fight for ideas of equality, freedom, and liberty should know that this struggle has no end. There is nothing inevitable about equality’s overcoming inequality, or justice’s overcoming injustice. Both positive and negative outcomes are possible in a world where human beings are more often seen as numbers and statistics than as individuals.

Even if Kerry had won, the struggle would go on. Even if the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan were solved and the Patriot Act was repealed, there would be so much more to do here and around the world. Those of us dedicated to this struggle must realize that there will be no final victory.

But does this mean that we should stop and give up? Does the set back of November 2 mean we stop? Of course not. We must pick our battles and fight them where we can. There are no grand slams when it comes to the problems of the world. And those who try to hit them usually go down swinging. We do what we can, not because we will win, but because it is the right thing to do.

There are some important acknowledgements to be made about this point of view. Even though these actions only seem logical, the individual is still worthy of praise. The very fact that a mindset of logical action exists in a world of inaction and apathy is praiseworthy. This is how we must see ourselves now. We must remember our small victories even in the corridors of defeat. In the shadow of the election, in the aftermath of the lost battle, we must gather ourselves together and prepare to do our best to save as many as we can.

The next few days should be spent giving our souls and minds a rest, to take a step back and give ourselves room to breathe. But we must not wait too long. The struggle goes on every day, whether we fight it or not. We have two years until the midterm elections; two years to strengthen the local connections we have made over this past campaign season, two years to make George W. Bush’s second term the most frustrating of his life. I am willing to admit we do not have the “machine” that the Republican Party has. They have been working on theirs for over 40 years, building a strong electoral machine on think tanks, certain ideological values, and appeals to a certain way of life. But with the work of 40 years on their side, they barely beat us. Imagine what we could do if we tightened our reins and fought not because we would win, but for the mere principle of fighting.

But even if we do lose, we will not give up. Fighting for the oppressed and for equality is motive enough, no matter how many defeats we face. So let us all take a short break, but recognize that we will be seeing one another soon when combat continues.