Good manners for election losers

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 16, 2020 - 12:00am

There is still some grace in bowing out with humility, when one fails to win a fair and square contest. The true character of a person is finally revealed in the manner by which he handles defeat. If there is magnanimity in victory, there should indeed be dignity and even honor in defeat.

The problem with some election losers is that their ego might be bigger than the votes they received, and they cannot accept the sovereign will of the people. They did join the contest and so, they should have prepared their minds and hearts that if there can be success, there can likewise be the possibility of failure. To join a fight and, after being beaten, to attack the process by raising unproven charges of cheating and irregularity would betray the weakness of one's character. It is unbecoming of a true gentleman and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The world does not end with one failure. History tells us that there had been many failures that turned out to be the foundation of future success. Thus, it is lamentable that some people have not matured enough to face reality when it is not the outcome expected.

In 1992, the perfect gentleman from Texas, George Henry Walker Bush (the father), upon seeing the numbers and even before the electoral college could meet to declare his opponent the winner, called up then Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton to congratulate him and offer his cooperation for a smooth transition from a Republican administration to an incoming Democrat. In 1980, Jimmy Carter, the incumbent Democrat president called up the apparent winner, Ronald Reagan to offer his congratulations and his humble acceptance of defeat. In 1976 Gerald Ford, who replaced the disgraced Richard Nixon, also greeted Jimmy Carter for his well-deserved victory over the Republican. It is a tradition and it is simple good manners and social grace of a well-cultured gentleman.


In 1932, the Republican Herbert Hoover was beaten by the great Democrat, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only US president who was elected four times in a row. Hoover and FDR were perfect gentlemen of the old school, refined and dignified. William Howard Taft was beaten by Woodrow Wilson in 1912, and he bowed out with grace and with respect to the winner and to the will of the people. In 1892, Benjamin Harrison was beaten by Grover Cleveland, just like in 1888 when Cleveland was beaten by the same Harrison. Both of them did not lose their sense of honor and propriety. They did not allow their pride to get the better of their dignity. As did president Chester Arthur in 1884 when he was also beaten by Grover Cleveland. These are marks of good breeding that seems to be a rare commodity today.

US President Andrew Jackson narrowly avoided impeachment conviction but was beaten by Ulysses Grant in the Democratic National Convention in 1868. He bowed out gracefully. Franklin Pierce lost to James Buchanan in 1856 and he accepted it with dignity. So did Martin Van Buren when defeated by William Henry Harrison in 1840. And John Quincy Adams (the son) when he lost to Andrew Jackson in 1828. The father, John Adams was also a one-term president when he lost to the great Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Our own president Sergio Osmeña, of the NP, was beaten by his former partymate Manuel Roxas, of the LP, in 1949. Elpidio Quirino, LP, was defeated by his former Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, NP, in 1952. Carlos P. Garcia, NP, was defeated by the vice president, Diosdado Macapagal, LP, in 1960. And Disodado Macapagal was beaten by Ferdinand Marcos, NP, in 1961. They were all gentlemen.

It is thus disgusting that there are sore losers who do not seem to be able to manage their emotions, much less rise to the great opportunity to be graceful in their day of defeat. Cebu's grand old man, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. was the best example of perfect breeding, a true gentleman with untarnished honor and unimpeachable dignity. But they do not breed men of such caliber anymore.

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