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Integrity Wins

By Dr. E. Faye Williams

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. File photo.

It is often said that the measure of character is not in how a person handles triumph, rather it is measured by how a person handles adversity.  Often the requirement for a loss is a concession. 

Like others, I have experienced having to offer a concession speech when things didn’t turn out the way I had wanted or expected them to.  In a civil society, especially a democracy, we are expected to lose with the presentation of honor, maturity, and dignity – despite any feelings we might have to the contrary.

Stacey Abrams had to do it in 2018.  She condemned the “rotten and rigged” election system that was “managed” by her opponent and said flatly: “So let’s be clear, this is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”  What she didn’t do is proclaim victory or brood the rest of the time about how terrible the system treated her.  She immediately went to work registering voters for the next election and, squarely facing her most significant challenge, announced that she was running again.

In the face of defeat, those of low character take their hurt feelings and go home, refusing to honestly face their shortcomings while blaming anything/anyone open to criticism.  Opposite that type of petulance was the 2008 concession speech of Senator John McCain acknowledging the Presidential victory of then Senator Barack Obama.  McCain said, “His success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.” That concession told us who the real John McCain was.

In 1980, Ted Kennedy had to concede, and he did so by saying, “For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.  For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Choosing principle above position by relinquishing her leadership position in the Republican conference, Liz Cheney demonstrated her character.  She had always voted against everything I believed in and was my political opposite, but, while recognizing its flaws, we both love the best of our country and place the survival of our democracy above partisan bickering.  When her choice of principle threatened her congressional seat, I found myself pulling for her and hoping that by some miracle she would win.  She lost but did so rather than ‘bend the knee’ to a most vile character whose intent was to subvert the will of the American electorate.

Firm in her resolve, Liz Cheney stood to present her version of a concession speech.  It was not a speech of resignation. She was in no way quitting the fight in which she plays a major role.  She may be leaving Congress but she wasted no time letting us know she had bigger and better plans than returning to the U.S. Congress.

For once our political goals are aligned.  We both understand Donald Trump to be a clear, present, and future threat to the stability, security, and prosperity of our nation.  We are both dedicated to bringing this truth to anyone who will listen.  We are both committed to doing everything within our power to prevent Donald Trump from ever occupying the White House again.

(Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is a minister, a UN Peace Ambassador, President of the Dick Gregory Society, author of “Dick Gregory: Wake Up and Stay Woke,” and Host of “Wake Up and Stay Woke” on WPFW-FM-89.3 radio, as well as a columnist for Trice-Edney Wire Service.)