Although Los Angeles Dodgers’ center fielder Willie Davis was widely considered the fastest man in baseball throughout the 1960s and 70s, he is perhaps more often remembered for a remark he made following game two of the 1966 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. In the fifth inning Davis committed three errors on two consecutive plays. L.A. lost the game 8 to 4 and was swept in the series. When asked about his less than stellar performance, Davis dryly remarked, “It ain’t my life, and it ain’t my wife, so why worry?” Even more important than his amazing speed, Davis had extraordinary perspective.
More than once since the release of the November 7, 2006 general election results, I’ve given some thought to Mr. Davis’ quip. I have been elected to city council and Mayor of my hometown of Cincinnati. I was three times elected to statewide office, first as State Treasurer, then twice as Secretary of State. Voters from my political party decisively choose me to be their standard bearer in the race for Ohio Governor. When the votes were counted in the general election, however, this time I and other uncompromising conservatives did not come out on top. But beyond personal disappointment there is perspective (a la Willie Davis). And beyond such perspective there is an ironic, yet undeniable sense of accomplishment for many of us.
I have spent thousands of hours over the past several years traveling on Ohio’s highways, city streets, and country roads, to virtually every municipality and township in the state. I have talked with literally millions of Ohio citizens about the sanctity of human life and the sacredness of marriage. We discussed second amendment issues, the importance of demanding fiscal restraint on our state and local budgets, tax relief, and viable plans to revive Ohio’s economy that would offer our children opportunity to live, work and raise their own families.
For all the effort over many years, I along with others of like mind, were able to help shape the discussion at Ohio’s statehouse, courthouses, and city and township halls. These efforts resulted in some remarkable victories – like Ohio’s Constitutional Marriage Protection Amendment, the establishment of a statutory state government spending cap, the reduction of the sales tax rate and the defeat of expanded state-sponsored gambling. We raised more than $12 million from non-traditional sources and identified more than 1.4 million individuals who pledged themselves to be civic-minded forces for change.
While the results of the 2006 election represent a temporary set back to me and other conservatives who labored to advance our cause like U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, if we become too focused on the vote tally alone we risk missing out on the fruits of the struggle. In fact, we did good work for causes that were worth our time and efforts. And as a consequence, not only did we leave our respective communities better than we found them, but we are personally improved and better prepared for the next battle.
I think about the considerable personal and political setbacks endured by Abraham Lincoln before he ascended to the presidency. The death of a child, unsuccessful business endeavors and several election losses shaped his perspective but did not dampen his resolve.
Lincoln understood that life is about struggle – wins and losses. He refused to be defined by defeat because he was driven by hope and a belief that we can improve the human condition.
I like what Elie Wiesel wrote: “When He created man, God gave him a secret—and that secret was not how to begin, but how to begin again. It is not given to man to begin; that privilege is God’s alone. But it is given to man to begin again—and he does so every time he chooses to defy death and side with the living.”
Our conservative causes are just as true and worth fighting for as they were on November 6 (the day before the election). So, we must keep perspective, and continue. We must encourage others to also remain engaged in the struggle – to be a force for living change. In more than thirty years of pubic service one thing I have learned is that the only way a cause is truly lost is if the army is scattered and resolved to defeat.
As citizens united in conservative principles, we are called to unite and to be a force for change. We are not defeated. Indeed, there is still work to do.