Pearls & Vodka

Hillary Clinton Did Not Win and That’s Not Fair…

Before some of my Republican readers start typing out their angry replies to this post, bear with me, I’m not saying “I’m with her!” Hear me out…

In 1916, the Georgia Tech football team beat Cumberland College by a score of 222-0.  Seriously.  And no, that’s not a typo.  In an LA Times column in 1983 Paul Aurandt called that game “the biggest blowout in football history.”  Ironically, Cumberland College lost to Sewanee that year 107-0  as well. [1] And as of today,  100 years later, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in the popular vote by 2,302,743.  Back in 1916 even with the most lopsided victory in college football history, Georgia Tech didn’t even win their conference outright (they tied with Tennessee for all my Vols friends).  And even with a 2.3 million lead in votes, Hillary Clinton has not won the Presidential Election.

We tell our children that life is not fair, and it is not, but is it not because we make rules and standards, and even Electoral Colleges, to prevent it from being fair?

So the question is, do we force life into not being fair?

A common news topic post-Presidential Election of 2016 is that we should abolish the Electoral College.  This isn’t really a new idea.  Folks had the same cries in 2000 when Al Gore lost the White House to George W. Bush.  In all actuality, this complaint has existed since the election of 1824 when the House of Representatives had to choose the President as none of the four candidates secured the required majority of electoral votes.  In fact, John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives even though Andrew Jackson had received the most votes.  It happened again in 1876.  Samuel J. Tilden received the majority of the popular vote, and yet, you have never heard of President Tilden because Rutherford B. Hayes won a controversial Electoral College vote as 20 votes were unresolved. Again in 1888,  the incumbent President Grover Cleveland secured the popular vote (albeit by a narrow margin) and still lost to the Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison.  There were even some who said that Nixon beat JFK for the popular vote in 1960 due to a split in electoral votes for the Democratic nominee.  [2]

And you know what?  I bet Al Gore, Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden, and Grover Cleveland would tell you, that life is not fair and they’d most likely blame the Electoral College, a manmade institution.

So what does this have to do with college football?

Some of you are not sports fans, and trust me-there are times during stressful games like the Iron Bowl, when I wonder why I am.  But for a little background, let me introduce you to the BCS.  The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) created in 1998 and consisted of four bowl games:  Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange.  The goal was to match up the two highest-ranked teams in a championship game at the end of the season, thus the BCS National Championship Game was created in 2006 and played its final game in 2014. [3]

Why you ask?  Because many of the coaches, teams, administrations, boosters and fans believed the system was not fair, another manmade institution.

In 2014, the same organization created the College Football Playoff system, where a four-team single elimination tournament began.  This system is a manmade bracket competition with the selection seeds for the four teams being decided by a 13 person selection committee.  I know you’ll be shocked to find out that even though this system is seemingly better than the BCS system, it is still criticized as being unfair.  The complaints surround subjectivity of the committee, and a lack of representation for schools without conference championships.  Additionally, there has been some criticism on the qualifications of the committee members.  In essence, there are some who believe the manmade process is not fair. [4]

There are those who believe they have dreamed up the perfect solution to the Electoral College flaws.  Some believe a “district plan” where there electoral votes would be awarded based on congressional districts would be better.  In this plan, the two Senate votes would be considered as “at-large” awarded to the state’s most popular vote winner.  We actually already have two states, Maine and Nebraska, that operate under this plan.  Many believe this would preserve the “small state advantage,” while allowing diversity within the states to be reflected in national election totals. But the reality is this manmade plan could have the opposite of the intended effect because of lopsided congressional districts that always swing a certain way.  Another solution that has been created is the “proportional plan” where we would still have the Electoral College but the electoral votes in each state would be allocated based upon a percentage of the popular vote won.  Can you even imagine what would happen in a close election then?  Or an election with multiple candidates of the same party?  Or  a runoff?  [5]

Truth be told, all the manmade options would likely end in the same feelings, “this isn’t fair.”

There are those who have spoken out about adding teams to the College Football Playoff system, allowing 8 teams instead of 4.  And there are others who have said that taking the top two teams from each of the Power 5 conferences would be more fair.  But in reality, there are still those who would say, “this isn’t fair.”

I’ve given a lot of history in this post, but honestly I felt like it was necessary to actually get to the point.  Life isn’t fair.  We aren’t lying to our kids.  And the reason it’s not fair is because everything we deal with is manmade and as humans, we cannot see the bigger picture.  Only God knows the end of the story.  In all actuality, it’s not fair that Hillary Clinton didn’t win.  (And I do say that with gritted teeth)  But with over 2 million votes separating the candidates in the popular vote it’s clear the country thought a different person deserved to become the 45th President of the United States of America.  But we have laws and systems in place to protect us.  The ideology behind the Electoral College was not to shut down the popular vote, it was actually to give a voice to those in smaller states and rural areas.  The fact is though, not everyone can win.  And not everyone can play for the National Championship in college football.  There are winners and there are losers in our society.  I’ve never been big on the whole participation trophy thing.  Because of the way our culture is designed it’s important to teach kids that there will be ups and there will be downs, there will be victories and there will be defeats.  I’d much rather teach my child to lose with the same integrity and dignity that he may win with.  In the words of Emmitt Smith, “Act like you have been here before.”  Too many kids today grow up and find themselves in a competitive sporting atmosphere and are pitching fits and throwing tantrums because the outcome was not favorable and they are yelling, “that’s not fair.”  Being gracious in defeat is just as important, if not more, than being gracious in victory.

So where does that leave us politically?  Well, in a recount.  A system of checks and balances is important.  If something was done wrong, counted wrong, not counted, it should be discovered.  Due diligence is vitally important.  It is a tough pill to swallow knowing that Secretary Clinton spoke against Mr. Trump saying he wasn’t sure he’d be able to accept the results and now she is having trouble herself with acceptance.  But it’s understandable, because you know she’s thinking, “this isn’t fair.”

And in football?  We are left with a lot of one loss teams who might be able to knock off the perineal teams that seem to always be playing for the Championship, but instead are back home in their locker rooms saying, “this isn’t fair.”

There’s two sides to every story, and really probably more than that.  The truth is, it’s not fair for President Elect Trump either.  He’ll constantly live out his Presidency with folks saying, “That’s not my President.”  Just to serve as a wakeup call, he IS your President, whether you voted for him or not.  That’s the way the law works, that’s the way the Constitution was written and that’s “the way the cookie crumbles.”  And he deserves the same respect that those of us who voted for him would need to have shown to Secretary Clinton had she won.

You don’t have to respect the person, but you should respect the office.  Just like, as much as I hate Alabama (as an Auburn/Arkansas fan) I’ll have to respect their run if they win the National Championship again.  Trust me, life has very rarely ever been fair for Arkansas fans!

If you have ever lost a loved one before their time, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever seen a mother bury her child, you know life is not fair.  If you have ever walked the maddening road of cancer with a friend, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever watched an innocent child suffer at the hands of illness, you know that life is not fair.  If you have ever had a coworker who worked their tail off and still lost their job, you know that life is not fair.  You’ve heard the question, why do bad things happen to good people?  You’ve undoubtedly asked that question at least once in life, and if you have, you know that life is not fair.

But maybe that is where we are missing the mark.  Maybe our expectations for fairness are our fatal flaw.  And if that’s the case, we know that yes, it’s not fair that Hillary Clinton lost when she won the popular vote.  And we know it’s not fair that our favorite college football team, with only one loss, doesn’t get a shot at the National Championship.

But life isn’t fair, and our expectation that it ever would be is unfair to life itself. The beauty of life is in our pursuit of never giving up, even when it’s not fair.

So pour yourself a drink, put on your pearls (or bowties for the guys) and keep on keeping on.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1916_Cumberland_vs._Georgia_Tech_football_game

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_elections_in_which_the_winner_lost_the_popular_vote

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowl_Championship_Series

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Football_Playoff

[5] http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/11/the-electoral-college-enlightened-democracy