I can’t imagine how hard the last few days have been for you. It’s been trying for me and I have worked (quite well I might add) at convincing myself that it doesn’t matter who wins this election. But for you it matters and it matters a lot.
Soon you will hear whether or not you lost and on the same day you will know if it was the kind of loss you can come back from in a few weeks or the kind that means you can forget about your dream for years or…forever. I can’t imagine how hard this is for you the waiting, the anxiety, the tension. I have wanted before in my life some of them I didn’t really allow myself to work for, I let them fly out of my reach because it felt better knowing that I hadn’t tried. And then there are the others, the things that I worked for, that I bled for, lived for, felt like I would have died for. There are the things that became my life.
For this you have worked harder than anything I have ever worked for. It wasn’t the work of a year or even a decade. This is a dream that stretches back and shadows your whole life. It might be something your father wanted for you and wouldn’t have been happy if you didn’t try for. If he was like most fathers of that time he was withholding and you were never sure of the affection he held for you. You wanted his pride and you were willing to do almost anything for it. The mythical status of him meant that you never really understood that a father is not a god. After all, he was for so many people. All the flaws you started to see in him were not seen by so many others and when millions of people hold a man up as a deity doesn’t he become one? And what kind of life does a man like that live, how much time could he have had for you but this is my way of thinking that maybe it was his dream and not yours. But that can’t be wholly true because he’s been gone for a long time. Perhaps then it was a dream you inherited as surely as you inherited his charisma and hold on power.
You became the new deity for all those millions of people. They put you on that pedestal that he occupied and you became the new focus for all their dreams and hopes. Your dreams and hopes became entwined in them. The whisper in your ear became the beat in your heart. There is a story I love. It’s about roman generals getting a triumph. When they came back from their wars they would be allowed into the city at the head of their vast spoils. The kings of foreign lands and their creatures, elephants and tigers prowling in cages, beautiful women and gold and silver walked with them. Most of all there was the adulation of the people. I have read that there is no greater drug than the love of millions. Their screams of worship and their genuine adoration is addictive. In the midst of all this a man can believe he is a god. He can see himself as immortal. One more thing was given to these roman generals, a slave whose job was to whisper in their ears over and over again memento mori-remember you will die, remember you will die.
To be you is to be one of these roman generals after your father was one of these roman generals except there is no slave. There is only your gnawing self-doubt. The kind of self-doubt that comes about by realising that there is another deity in your generation, another god in your country and the power that you want is not decided only by your worshippers but by his as well. There is also the special drug of elitism that politics awakens in everyone. -Well, in everyone who can be a successful politician and you are. One of the two most successful politicians this country had this side of the millennium.- A politician must believe that he is the best for the job. He must say it over and over. And to give up all you had to give up to get this far, to give up privacy and all your other dreams, to endure all the rumours swirling and whirling around you, it was necessary for you to believe that this country needed you. So necessary that you ended you ended up needing it.
It seems that our country is always at a watershed, we are poised on the brink of brinks. Every election since the millennium has been more important than the last. 2002 and the first winds of change in 24 years. 2007 and the pain of almost been shattered apart. 2013 and a chance for redemption. And you have played a key role in each of those, shaping the destiny of our country like a potter at his wheel.
Greatness has touched you, it has brushed its wingtip against your cheeks, it has taken you by the hand, embraced you by the body, occupied you by the spirit and allowed you to influence the lives of nearly forty million people for all this time. It comes knocking on your door again and asks you to choose it over your dreams and hopes. I don’t think you will ever read this but if you do, listen to greatness knock. You lost this election and greatness asks for one more sacrifice. It asks for you to say that you did. To bow down and accept the results that have been given you. The battle rages between fulfilment and greatness but a man like you was never meant to be satisfied, he wasn’t meant to be happy. What-ifs will hound you the rest of your life but that is what is asked of a man like you. And so I ask you to be great and to lose because this is what the country needs right now. You. Just as much as you need it.