It’s Important to Be Magnanimous in Defeat

It’s important to be magnanimous in defeat, so I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to the winners of last night’s election.

Congratulations to the racists. Congratulations to the misogynists. Congratulations to the zealots and the xenophobes and the bullies and the mean-spirited. We underestimated you. We tried to minimize you. We did not realize your reach and scope. We did not realize you were our neighbors, our family, our coworkers, our casual acquaintances. We didn’t see you hiding there in the darkness, ready to strike out at us. We didn’t see because we didn’t want to see.

We wanted to believe that humanity is basically good. We wanted to believe that people will ultimately vote in their own self-interest, even if they’re not voting in the interest of others. We wanted to believe in justice and equality, in inclusiveness and love. We wanted to believe in America. You showed us the error of our ways.

You showed us that many people in America–maybe even most people in America–are not motivated by love, by justice and quality, by inclusiveness and empathy. They are motivated by fear. Fear of the Other. Fear of not getting what they think they’re owed. Of course, that’s not uniquely American. We saw it happen in the U.K. with the Brexit vote. We’ve seen it happen in Russia with┬áthe cult of Putin. But we thought that maybe, just maybe, we were different.

We’re not.

American exceptionalism is at an end. We are the same brand of cowardly, the same brand of selfish and distrustful, the same brand of disappointing as people everywhere else. So congratulations on teaching us that lesson. I have a feeling we’ll have many more lessons to learn in the next four years.


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