We all remember that kid — the one on the playground who threw a tantrum when he lost. No matter what the game was — marbles, tether ball, tag, whatever — when he lost, he threw a fit. He yelled. He screamed. He argued. He punched.
Remember that kid? After a while, you just stopped playing with him. You didn’t invite him to your parties. If he was next in line, you went to do something else with someone else. He wasn’t worth your playtime.
You called him a “Sore Loser”. And even though you were just kids, you knew — everyone knew — that nobody likes a sore loser.
Kids don’t need to be taught about sore losers. They know just by watching what they do. How they act. How they cheat. How they bully. How they whine.
When you’re a kid on a playground, you can walk away from sore losers. You can choose to play with someone else. But things change when you grow to adulthood. Sometimes, you can’t walk away. Sometimes, the sore loser forces himself on you.
Politics breaks down when the sore losers join in.
Today, we’re all struggling with the sore losers who have joined our politics and entered our government. They aren’t new, not really. They’ve been around for decades. What is new is the impact they have. What is new is how they refuse to admit defeat when they’ve lost. What is new is how a political party has embraced sore losers.
The 2020 presidential election is a well-known example of a sore loser. Donald Trump lost the popular vote and lost the electoral college vote. Every state elections officer certified that loss. But Donald Trump is a sore loser — with the money and influence to turn a complaint into a full-blown verbal and physical assault on Congress, on election officials, on the press, on the judiciary, and on the voters themselves. Trump got others to endorse his lies and feed his tantrum — some gained positions of power and authority within the Republican party and even within the government.
But this didn’t begin in the 2020 presidential election. The seeds of this sore loser behavior were evident in 2016 when, before Election Day, Trump claimed that he could only lose if his opponent cheated and if the election was “rigged”. This is being a sore loser — he tried to establish the idea that losing was not his fault, just in case he lost. Of course, Trump won the 2016 election. But his winning does not discount his behaving like a sore loser in advance of the results of the election.
There are other examples. One is the passage of the ACA, the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The struggle to pass the ACA was a long and difficult process that succeeded despite receiving no supporting votes from any Republican member of Congress. Soon after the ACA became law, Republicans in Congress began a years-long campaign to undermine the ACA. They lied to people and businesses, claiming that the ACA would be repealed soon, telling them to ignore the law’s requirements. In true sore loser fashion, Republicans acted as if the law wasn’t legitimate and that the passage of the ACA was invalid.
Rather than accepting the passage of the ACA and working to ensure the program’s success, Republicans took as many as 70 votes to reduce, repeal, or defund the program, starting in 2011 and continuing into 2017. The ACA was and is widely popular and enormously successful for the American people. Nevertheless, the Republicans refused to accept Congress’ decision to pass the ACA.
The sore loser refuses to accept the results of a vote in Congress. Here’s a current example: today, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are demanding radical cuts to government services and spending. If they don’t get those cuts, these Republicans will make America a deadbeat nation. They will block the United States from paying its bills.
But those services and expenditures were a budgeting decision made in Congress. Congress proposed, debated, compromised, and voted on all of these services and all of this spending. The budget was passed on December 23, 2022, and signed into law by President Biden days later. It is in effect, by law, until September 30, 2023.
Republicans are demanding that this law, passed and signed 5 months ago, should not be allowed to stand. Why not? Because Republicans are sore losers. They lost the vote in Congress last December and, instead of accepting the law as passed, they are crying and whining and yelling and threatening.
Republicans in Congress will have another chance to propose, debate, compromise, and vote on government spending. This budget expires at the end of September, four months from now. But they don’t just want to prevail in 2024. They want to rewrite history for last year’s budgeting process which they lost. They are sore losers.
Nobody likes a sore loser.
Here’s the thing about sore losers — they don’t believe in making decisions. They just don’t. Not when that decision isn’t what they wanted. No, if the decision goes against them, sore losers demand that the contest continue. And continue. And continue until they get their way.
How can anything get accomplished when no decision is final? Games can’t be completed. Contests can’t end. Problems can’t get solved. We can’t make progress. Nothing gets done unless we stand by the decisions that get made.
But that is what sore losers demand, isn’t it? Sore losers want the election to continue even though the votes have been cast and counted. Sore losers want the law overturned even though the bills have been debated, passed, and signed. Sore losers want the budget to be tossed aside even though the spending has been approved and the appropriations have been made. Sore losers want to throw away the rules until they get their way.
The Republican Party is the party of sore losers. And nobody — nobody — likes a sore loser.