For Democrats, Losing is the New Winning

Sarah Palin, Former Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate and unexpected boon to Tina Fey’s career, was thoroughly roasted on Twitter after she shared an article critical of Stacey Abrams, the runner-up in Georgia’s recent governor’s race. (Yes, I refuse to use the word “gubernatorial”; some word’s just shouldn’t exist). Palin shared an article criticizing the Democrats’ choice of Abrams to deliver this year’s reply to the State of the Union address; the article title was “Chuck Schumer Wants A LITERAL LOSER To Deliver The Democratic SOTU Response.” Twitter uses were quick to note Palin’s, shall we say lack of self reflection, in mocking another politician for keeping a high public profile after losing a major election.

Abrams continues to be relevant, both for her personal appeal and for her story in the 2018 race. Stacey Abrams lost in the same way that the Saints lost the NFC title game; her opponent made a calculated decision to commit interference in order to prevent her win, and the referee let him get away with it. Only in Abrams’ case, the interference was against thousands of mostly black voters, and the opponent and the referee were the same person. By remaining in the spotlight, Abrams gives the Democrats a face to put on their opposition to voter suppression, racial disparity, white male domination and general injustice.

Andrew Gillum, another Democrat who gained a national following but lost a close governor’s race in Red America (narrowly losing the Governorship of Florida to Republican Ron DeSantis in an election marred by multiple instances of race-baiting), met with former President Obama last month, fueling speculations of a presidential run.  Gillum ultimately decided to cover the 2020 race for CNN rather than run in it, but this new gig will still keep hm in the national spotlight should he decide on his own political comeback down the road.

Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke, who came close to unseating Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, has been wandering the country like many temporarily defeated superheroes before him, driving political pundits crazy as they await his expected announcement of a 2020 presidential run. O’Rourke’s loss may have been a blessing in disguise; had he won a Senate seat, he would likely have kept his pledge not to run for President in 2020. Losing allows for him to strike while his political iron is hot, taking advantage of his abilities to appeal to voters in a Red state, build important coalitions among Democratic constituencies, and raise tons of money.

Of course, sometimes losing is losing. Despite the fact that Bernie Sanders is likely to run again and Hillary Clinton is contemplating another go as well, many within the Democratic Party feel that their time has past, and that there are many fresher faces (chronologically and in terms of history in Washington) who are better able to take the mantle. And of course, the last Democrat elected President was a young Washington newcomer who previously lost his first Congressional race, badly, but relied on a combination of charisma, inspiration and good timing to make a comeback that went all the way to the White House.

In today’s political climate, Democrats are presenting the most diverse slate of candidates ever while Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan is being connected to harassing elderly Native Americans (context notwithstanding) and vicious hate crimes, Democrats who lost in the face of these animosities and biases or who have proven their ability to bridge some of these gaps may turn their 2018 defeats into 2020 victories.

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