Monday, March 12, 2012

Winning At All Costs?

"Winners NEVER cheat and Cheaters NEVER win." - Unknown

Over the weekend I watched the movie "Game Change." The movie forced me to think about the emphasis that we often place on winning and finishing first. We are in the midst of another heated primary election, this time on the Republican side, and I can't help but to ponder on the mid frames of the candidates and their philosophies around winning and finishing first.

Honestly, I was never super competitive as a kid. My philosophy was always, "oh well, so what I didn't win."I was thrown into many activities and forced to find passion in things that didn't make much sense to me. I often tell people, "there is not a single creative bone in my body." I can't dance, can barely sing (I sound excellent in the shower and in elevators) and I spent six-years playing the flute and two-years playing the tenor saxophone. The highest chair I ever held as a flute player was 4th out of 9 chairs and that was by a fluke. It only lasted about three weeks until the 5th chair challenged me and I lost. I had no passion to run for student government or participate in any activities that required me to rally support on behalf. I was very involved in extra-curricular activities and played a sport. However, nothing ever stuck and I didn't quite excel at any of those things. On the academic side, I was an average/below average student. I was surrounded by cheaters and people who took the easy route or short cuts to get the "A" or make it to the finish line. My sophomore year in high school, I took an advanced biology class that literally gave me headaches and busted my behind. I attended before and after school study sessions and studied really hard, while my desk mate and others around me cheated with note cards on test days. I could have easily taken that route but instead I worked very hard for my C+ and to this day, I am very proud of that C+. I say all of this to say that winning or finishing first has a cost, but it's a cost that I was never willing to pay.

I know we all remember this scene in 2008 where at a McCain campaign rally, a woman stood up and told Senator McCain that then Senator Obama was an "Arab" and was on her way to labeling him a "terrorist." Senator McCain made a bold and courageous move to take the mic from this woman and tell her she was wrong, then proceed to defend Barack Obama and talk positively about his character. In the movie "Game Change" we see a constant struggle by McCain to run a campaign that steers away from this type of negative rhetoric and in his own words "serves as a campaign his children could be proud of." I don't have the exact quote, but McCain expressed that he wanted to run such a campaign and if he lost he would be ok with his loss, because he knows that he stood by his morals and took the higher road. Sounds to me like McCain and I share the same trait in that sense. He would have been a 4th chair flute player like myself and not obsessed with winning or finishing first. In fact, McCain was ridiculed quite a bit for finishing 894 out of 899 at the United States Naval Academy.

Unfortunately, Senator McCain lost his way. He made a political play that focused solely on winning and finishing first, causing him to abandon the very principles that got him to that pivotal point in life - Republican Presidential Nominee.

Mitt Romney on his second tour of Republican Primary Season is obsessed with not only finishing first in this primary, but winning the White House. He is so obsessed with both that he has no clear vision, has abandoned his morals and has thrown his principles out of the window on I-91 to die a slow death. To quote The Janitor from Sunday's episode of The Urban Politico Hour - "Romney will blow with the wind and go with the flow, if you tell Romney he has to eat lima beans to be President, he will like lima beans and eat lima beans to become President." It's very difficult to trust someone like that to be President. Winning is NOT everything and it's certainly not a means to an end. Winning and finishing first means no compromise and equates to disastrous possibilities. Sounds to me like Mitt was the flute player who challenged my 4th chair position, kicked my ass and went on to take routes other than studying to ace the biology test. Work hard for a C+ - (insert beat box or stewing of the teeth) PLEASE!

Bottom line - Mitt will do WHATEVER is takes to finish first and win.

Rick Santorum on the other hand is a dangerous and deadly combination of both and ensuring that his competitors never enter the race again. His philosophies are deep rooted in his conservative values and a pursuit to transform America to a mirror image of himself. On a positive note, Santorum has drawn out a map of his beliefs, we know exactly where he stands on the issues and he is not backing away from his positions. Let's just say he won't eat lima beans, if he truly hates them. Santorum would have thrown me out of the my 4th chair seat and the band all together. In his eyes, I am a snob for turning my nose up at the cheaters of the biology exam. 

Put either of these candidates in Senator McCain's shoes in 2008 and we wouldn’t have the teachable moment that Senator McCain’s rejection of lies and negativity, gave us.  Put Romney or Santorum in the General Election against President Obama and we will see a race where morals and basic sportsmanship will  be abandoned, for that good behavior could mean a deficit of votes.

Ladies and Gentleman – get ready for the general election, where finishing first and winning are top priority regardless of what it cost. Even if we further divide our nation or embarrass our political landscape on a global scale. Doesn’t matter – Losers Are Not Cool!

In this race called life, I can sleep better at night knowing that I showed up to the race and gave my all in a respectable and dignified manner.  Even if I lose, who cares. How about you?

Where do you fall on the scale of competitiveness? Are you with myself/John McCain, Romney or Santorum?
Has our political process lost its dignity? 
Will any of these candidates run a clean campaign against President Obama?
In the game of life, if you had an opportunity to cheat and receive everything you ever wanted in life (money, cars, job, home, etc) without getting caught, would you do it?
Is it more important to win at all costs or lose after you've taken the high road?
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