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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Some advice on the election, from me and folks who are much smarter

Free advice is usually worth exactly what you pay for it, but let a guy who has covered elections for 40 years offer some to my friends who were strong Hillary Clinton supporters and my other friends who were strong Donald Trump supporters.

Some of you Clinton supporters are distraught, and I get that. You thought your candidate was the best choice for the country and the national media had you convinced she was going to win, up until about 9 p.m. Tuesday. So you have a right to own your anger, grief and any other negative feelings washing over you. Take some time to work that out.

Some of you Trump supporters are ecstatic, and I get that, too. You believed in your candidate, thought he was the best hope for America and stuck with him even when the national media suggested he had no chance to win the primaries, let alone the White House. So you have the right to own your joy, elation or whatever exuberant feelings are washing over you. Enjoy that for a while.

Here’s something to remember. Every candidate who you just couldn’t stand during the campaign is bound to pleasantly surprise you a few times after he gets in office by doing something you never thought he would, or not doing something he swore he would.

And every candidate you place your full faith and trust in is bound to disappoint you at some point, because campaigning is different than governing, and the lofty promises made on the stump get chewed up with the gritty realities of doing the job.

The key thing for Clinton supporters will be to recognize those good things they currently can’t imagine Trump ever doing when they appear and get behind them. A good thing doesn’t stop being good because you don’t like the guy proposing it.

The key thing for Trump supporters is not to let one broken promise or shifted priority make you decide that all things are broken and it’s time to just walk away. In politics, where the perfect is usually the enemy of the good, no one ever gets everything. Getting something almost always beats getting nothing.

No one is ever as good as their campaign makes them out to be or as awful as their opponents paint them. 

Young people who poured their hearts into their first campaign and lost shouldn’t hang their heads, decide the system is rotten and give up. There are other battles that can be won. Young people who gave their all to their first campaign and won shouldn’t decide their work is done, everything’s fixed and go home. There are other battles that could be lost.

Democrats who were incensed with the lack of respect shown Barack Obama should think about that before trashing Trump before he takes office. Republicans who questioned Obama’s right to even be president should remember that before getting angry when their guy is in the bullseye.

Over the decades, I’ve known smart politicians who weathered many highs and lows. Here’s two bits of their wisdom, which are better than any I’ve got.

One is from U.S. Rep. Tom Foley, a Democrat who served 20 of his 30 years in Congress, including three as House speaker, with Republicans in the White House. America has one president at a time and he deserves everybody’s respect even when you disagree with him, Foley said.

The other is from U.S. Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, who spent nearly a half century delivering the goods for Washington state until being ousted in 1980 by the voters he’d been serving. He still managed to keep a sunny outlook. In 1988, he sat down for an interview in his Seattle home, a couple months after he’d had a mild heart attack and a few years after he’d lost part of a foot to diabetes. Asked for his prediction on that year’s presidential race, Maggie wouldn’t bite. He just smiled and said “Son, the country’s going to be all right, regardless of who wins.”

If everybody can keep Foley’s advice in mind, at least most of the time, we stand a good chance four years from now of saying Magnuson was right, at least in most cases.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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