I have spent half my life covering state and national political conventions – both Republicans and Democrats – and I am not ashamed even if I should be.
As a reporter and commentator from Idaho (or should I call myself a common tater?) I have always enjoyed the rough and tumble of politics and elections that provide us with strange, entertaining ways of choosing leaders. That can be more fun than watching a rodeo, complete with clowns.
I covered the colorful 1964 Republican national convention in the Daly City neighborhood of San Francisco. That was the home of the indoor arena known as the Cow Palace. I think they called it that because there were overtones of cattle and a lot of journalistic bull.
The Cow Palace that year was the stage of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s Republican nomination for president. It was a watershed year; he didn’t win, but he and his followers turned their party permanently to the right.
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Moderate Republican leaders (New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Idaho Gov. Robert Smylie and Michigan Gov. George Romney) were marginalized. Rockefeller and Romney were jeered whenever they appeared at the convention.
I witnessed another sad Republican. My seat in the press section was just behind the stage where various celebrities waited their turn at the microphone. One time I went behind the curtain and there stood Jackie Robinson, the historic baseball great who broke the color barrier and made baseball a better place.
Robinson stood there with his young son and was blatantly angry. Like many African Americans at the time, he was a Republican – just like Abraham Lincoln. Robinson was distraught that year. And Goldwater won only 6 percent of the black vote.
I was watching this year’s Democratic convention on television the other night when I noticed a few rookies among the delegates. Some appeared to be sobbing and some were infuriated. They were deeply disappointed when Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.
Granted, if somebody has dedicated his or her passion and all those hours of hard work to one candidate, that hurts and that’s natural.
But some slightly green political campaigners tend to mistake themselves for apostles of Jesus. In serious, big-league causes, most of us don’t expect to triumph on every election.
I have the advantage over newer losers. For me, when it comes to crying over a little thing like losing another stupid election, I’m no virgin.
First and foremost, when there is an election, the winning candidate is expected to get more votes than the losing candidate, even if your heartstrings are wet with tears. And if you do acquire fewer votes than your opponent, take an aspirin and try to get smarter than whining about your loss.
Bear in mind also that the rules in a legislature or a city council demand that the passage of new laws requires that losers can’t win if they don’t get more votes than the winner.
I realize that’s hard to believe, but try to comply and be like a man (or a woman if that scares you more), but stop crying. You’re soaking my ballot.
Perhaps it would help if I tell you that winning and losing in politics is similar to winning and losing a baseball game. You have to produce more scores than the other team.
But please don’t tell me that you think you’ve been cheated. And please don’t let our players cry when we lose a game. It’s embarrassing enough that some of you have taken up group crying to heal your sweet little hearts.
Next time, try to behave like a champ. Try to behave like Jackie Robinson and Bernie Sanders.
Columnist Bill Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501.