Feeling for the President-in-Tweet - Denny Scott editorial
Recently I realized I feel for (possibly/maybe/likely) outgoing United States President Donald Trump, I really do. There’s no punchline here. I feel bad for the guy because he and I have something in common: we’re both sore losers.
I’m headstrong, competitive and have never taken losing very well, so I understand exactly what he’s doing in trying to not be proven a loser three times over (the popular vote, the presidency and just being a bit of a loser).
It was an odd realization for me. He is not a good person. Subjectively, objectively, it doesn’t matter how you look at him: he’s mean, he’s a sexual predator and he’s probably the worst backstabber I’ve ever seen outside of those reality tattoo competition television shows my wife enjoys. Despite his flaws, however, I feel for him.
Last Wednesday I was running some errands on my lunch break and, for the first time since the pandemic hit, I was in a car long enough to listen to a radio program on CBC. The show was Ontario Today with Rita Celli and it was about sore losers, however it was only to be about individual stories and not about his Orangeness, Mr. Trump. The guest was Canadian Olympic silver-medal winner and Professor Angela Schneider. She may be as famous for winning her silver medal as how frustrated she looked afterwards.
Before I go any further, I’m not condoning Trump’s overreaction here, just saying that the basis behind it, not wanting to lose, is a pretty universal feeling and one I can understand quite well.
I hate losing and I don’t like being wrong, the latter of which does occasionally happen in my field. It’s been a real learning experience over the last 12 years to realize that mistakes happen and you can’t always be on the winning side. I’ve needed to internalize the idea that owning a mistake, admitting defeat or admitting that I’m wrong doesn’t make me less of a person. Quite the opposite, actually – it proves that I’m not a recent graduate in my early 20s who thinks the world can be won by the time I’m 30.
Given his penchant for finding a way to make himself the winner of every situation, even if that isn’t reflected in reality, it’s easy to understand why Trump is going to such extreme lengths to try and make himself the winner.
Whether it’s in pop culture, on the ice rink, the ball diamond or the soccer pitch, we all learn very young that winning is important, despite the platitudes we tell ourselves. Winning means we’re inherently better than someone else at something, while losing means to admit our shortcomings. It becomes so very easy to tie ourselves to something we’ve won.
There are tropes about it in every television show and movie: the football star who never left town, the cruel heir who was born on
third base and thinks they hit a triple and the faded star who never learned how to be anything but the centre of attention are good examples.
The truth is, it’s much easier to absorb accolades than it is to internalize mistakes because we’re taught from a young age that mistakes are bad. It’s something I’ve even been teaching my daughter without realizing it, and I plan on working on that flaw in myself to make sure it’s not a flaw of hers.
It is possible, however, to keep reminders of the good and the bad as a way of encouraging growth from both winning and losing. To prove that to myself, I keep the praise and the condemnation from my work on the same board in my office.
It started with a letter that, for the lack of information given, might as well have been anonymous, a few years into my tenure at The Citizen.
I’m baring my soul here, so I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt me, but early on both retired Citizen publisher Keith Roulston and my editor Shawn Loughlin told me that I needed to stop being so convinced that I’m right, adding that mistakes can be an opportunity to learn and grow.
The letter criticized my wardrobe at a council meeting, calling it unprofessional. That letter started what I’ve come to call my growth board. The board includes letters of praise, of congratulations and fond memories, as well as mistakes I’ve made and situations where I could do better. The letter has since been taken down because I feel like I’ve addressed the issue. As I’ve grown, so too has my wardrobe.
Back to where we started: I feel for Mr. Trump because admitting our shortcomings, our failings, is never easy. Every time we have a chance to do it, however, we have a chance to try and grow. Unfortunately, some of us, Trump included, have a little bit more growing to do than others.