Losers get a bad rap

Posted 10/14/20

To the Editor, 

I’m a loser.

I’m smiling as I say that, but it’s true - I lost my primary election last month, for a Rhode Island Senate seat. 

That’s okay. …

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Losers get a bad rap


To the Editor, 

I’m a loser.

I’m smiling as I say that, but it’s true - I lost my primary election last month, for a Rhode Island Senate seat. 

That’s okay. I congratulated my opponent. While we have different political views, she put her name in, took on the critics and made the effort. I give her credit.

Losers get a bad rap. Some of the finest people I know have lost elections. And, of course, some horrendous, despicable lowlifes have won elections. Winning is hardly a measure of the quality of the person.

Unless you take the chance, you don’t have a shot at winning. Teddy Roosevelt praised the “man in the arena” for stepping up, engaging in political life. The fact is - if good people don’t get involved, governance is left to others.

I feel absolutely no shame in losing. This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost, and won’t be the last. Donald Trump speaks disparagingly of losers and suckers, but I view the people he’s describing as heroes - dedicated soldiers. While some lost their lives for no monetary gain, they lived and fought for a higher purpose. Mr. Trump appears incapable of understanding that.

Of course, he said we’d be winning so much now we’d be tired of it. Really? If 2020 is “winning”, that word has lost its meaning.

Moreover, losing has its benefits. Public service requires time … lots of it. I’ll now have more time for my wife, kids and grandkids. And more time to read, play guitar, travel, and play tennis.

Tennis, in fact, is a good metaphor. I grew up playing the game, and I love it. But in every match, every set, someone wins and someone loses. A t-shirt I’ve seen sums it up: “50% of tennis players are losers”. I love that. 

Sadly, when some people lose, they see it as a commentary on their character. Some deny the results, or threaten not to leave office, or deride the electorate’s intelligence. That’s just wrong.

The people get to decide. In every election (putting aside that odd construct called the electoral college), the person with the most votes wins. Hard to argue with that. As Coach Belichick says: “It is what it is“.

The disappointing aspect is the lack of engagement by most people. And often, the person “belly-achin” the loudest not only doesn’t run for office, but doesn’t even vote.

I’ve walked throughout my district, canvassing. I’ve enjoyed it. Especially when folks had questions, and wanted to discuss issues of the day. But that’s unusual. Many couldn’t be bothered. That’s a loss for them, and all of us.

Campaigning door-to-door, I always had a volunteer with me. Many had little experience in politics. One thing stunned them all: how few people vote! Especially in primaries. 27,000 people live in District 30. The next Senator was elected by only 1500 of them.

Your vote counts! More than you realize.

And losers count too. More than you think. Lots of people put in for limited slots in government; only one is elected. Face it - there are more losers than winners.

I’m a fortunate loser, too, because people have appreciated my efforts. I’ve received incredibly heart-warming, supportive calls and messages since the election. Not lamenting the result, but simply saying “thanks” for serving and wishing me well. We have many good people in this fine state.

As for me, I’m moving on to my next adventure. To the people in southern Warwick, who trusted me with representing them – thanks! I appreciate that.

I enjoyed my time in the Senate, and worked to better our lives here. And in my view (having been to almost every state), RI is the best! Yes, I’m a loser, but I still get to work and live in Rhode Island – so I’m a winner!

Mark McKenney


Rhode Island District 30


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