Why the 'You lost, get over it' argument is stupid and dangerous 4 years ago

Why the 'You lost, get over it' argument is stupid and dangerous

The global Women's March was impossible to ignore.

As the largest one-day protest in US history - accompanied by huge satellite gatherings of solidarity around the world - no one could deny the symbolism and strength of feeling on show. Some found the worldwide scenes heart-swelling and inspirational; a watershed moment to build upon with a legacy of mobilisation. Others were less enamoured.

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The likes of Piers Morgan took umbrage with something they found at once both irrelevant and clearly very relevant. Untangling specific misgivings from a confused sense of general ire, fundamental exception was taken to such a defiant protest against a newly-elected leader. Donald Trump had won, and so it was time to shut up and just live with the fact.

Putting aside that Trump lost the popular vote (which is relevant for the size of his mandate rather than its validity), there is a peculiar response that seems to greet any contention or unhappiness to a political outcome. Whether Brexit or Trump's presidency, the shout-down chorus of 'You lost, get over it' is as prevalent as it is emphatic.

The logic seems to be that politics is akin to a football match or an arm wrestle. There is a winner and a loser, and that is essentially that. It is non-negotiable, unambiguous and most of all, done. To subsequently express unhappiness, fear, foreboding or concern is the act of a 'cry-arse' or someone who is 'butt-hurt'. Essentially you're just a sore loser.

But life is not like that, is it? Politics may increasingly resemble an X Factor final, or hyped Super Sunday title-decider, but the outcome is not a Christmas number one or a three points for a win. Bill Shankly's famous quote about football's importance being greater than a matter of life or death may have been pithy and knowingly hyperbolic, but politics really is that vital.

For good or for bad, Brexit will affect people's lives. Depending on what you believe to be true, it will either provide a boost to the UK economy or have a detrimental effect. It will be the difference between someone having a job and therefore being able to pay their bills, and the opposite. There are also huge implications as to where people will be allowed to live their lives.

Similarly, Trump's victory will have huge ramifications in both the US and beyond. Mexicans, Muslims, women, foreign nationals, black people and others have very immediate reasons to worry, whilst  the new POTUS' protectionist economics, attitude towards the free press, and confrontational foreign policy will most surely impact everyone.

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Any major election or referendum has far-reaching consequences. It impacts health, wealth, human rights, living conditions, freedom, taxes, rules, laws, schooling, the environment, our safety, life and death. To define anything so monumental and far-reaching in the context of a sporting fixture is obscene. These things could change the course of your child's life.

Then there's the assumption that such national votes are the beginning and the end of democracy. As if a four-yearly general election is akin to a quadrennial World Cup, and any fixtures in between are meaningless dead-rubbers. It ignores the fact that peaceful protest, legal contention, robust interrogation and parliamentary debate are pillars of any democratic society.

To be blindly unquestioning of a political outcome is not only unnatural but incredibly reckless. It opens the door to totalitarianism and invites extremism. When lives are at stake, freedoms under threat, and security at risk, to behave as if you've won or lost a cup tie is insanity. To resist/question could save everybody, no matter their allegiance.

As for what good a march or protest really does, well that's a different argument entirely. Perhaps it will prove to be more cathartic than fundamentally transformative. That remains to be seen. But if the alternative is to do nothing, bite your tongue, and let the world burn as you see it, fuck that noise. Democracy is a way of life, not a four-yearly event.

The President of the United States clearly cares about the size of crowds. That's a good reason why we should too.

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