Language: November 2008 Archives

Sore Winners

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It's one thing to invent all manner of conspiracy theories about how you lost an election (see 2000 and 2004). Thankfully, the Republicans don't seem to be doing anything on the same order as that in 2008. Pretty much the only questions being raised by mainstream Republicans involve an organization that's actually under investigation by the FBI on the issue in question, and hardly anyone is claiming that the election was stolen or that McCain would have won easily if not for illegal vote-stealing of some sort.

I think part of that might have been that McCain was doing so well in the polls until the financial meltdown, and then Obama clearly had that crisis to thank for his win and for McCain's inability to get back in the game. If it had been closer, maybe things would be different, and there might be more charges that voter fraud actually affected the outcome. Nevertheless, I think it's noteworthy that Republicans largely aren't pushing it to that point, and I'm glad for that. I can't honestly say that I'm sure Democrats would do the same thing were the tables reversed, and we have history to support my doubts on that.

What amazes me, though, is all the sore winners in the 2008 election. It isn't enough just for a Democrat to take the popular vote for the first time since Jimmy Carter and to win the electoral college handily [clarification: I meant winning a majority, not simply a plurality; Clinton obviously won a plurality twice]. People have to complain about the states that did go for McCain, claiming that all the white Southerners who voted for McCain were doing so merely because of racism rather than because they think Obama's policies would be awful. See Sam's post on that. Today we heard some caller on NPR's Talk of the Nation talking about how she's glad she doesn't have to listen to Palin's voice anymore, and I thought it was perhaps some preference against the pitch of her voice, but it turned out she really meant her regional accent. She was talking as if someone is ignorant for dropping the 'g' in words ending in '-ing' and several other colloquialisms.

After hearing this woman's snotty bigotry against the kind of accent you can hear not just in Alaska but across the Midwest, Sam wondered out loud why people like that caller think it's a good idea to alienate such a large swathe of voters. People did it with Bush, but he'd won, and they needed some outlet to express their frustration. So they tried to feel better than him by pretending his accent was equivalent with being an ignorant dolt. I'm not sure what people think they're accomplishing by complaining about those on the losing side, though, with these exaggerations of racism in all anti-Obama voters and by making fun of a quite common accent in a large stretch of this country. It certainly does feel like sore winning. What's the motivation for that?

Update: I was originally planning to link to this in the post, but I reworked it enough times that I forgot to put it in the final version somewhere. I did want to give Senator McCain credit for what is absolutely and indisputably the best and most honorable concession speech I have ever heard from a political candidate. He knows how to lose gracefully and respectfully.

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