For those of us flipping burgers or mowing lawns or collecting stray eyelashes to turn into fabulous fringe jackets to sell on Etsy to make ends meet, it's hard to imagine feeling sympathy for the people vying for the most powerful job in the world. If someone is in the position to run for president of the United States, you assume they're probably going to have a decent life from here on out.
Actually, maybe not. For you see, running for president and then losing is the first step toward a life of soul-crushing misery, heartache, and mindfuckery.
5Losing The Presidency Is Psychologically Catastrophic
Many of us are blessed with a core group of intimate friends and family who will call us out when we stink up the bathroom or steal an entire pizza. Running for president requires a candidate to replace that core group of poop-caller-outers with Yes Men who can keep you pumped up about yourself for the multi-year marathon that it takes to run a presidential campaign. Not only do these people keep your ego sky high, they have to make you believe in yourself until the bitter end -- and they have to be excellent at their jobs.
Which is why when the whole thing is over, the losers usually have no idea that they've lost until the 11th hour. Mitt Romney, for example, didn't know he was going to lose until election night. His advisers were clueless, his family was sure the country was in the bag, and no one bothered to write a concession speech.
Finding out he didn't win the election must have felt like finding out "Tagg" is a stupid name for a human boy. But Mitt is only one of many former presidential candidates who found themselves baffled at the end of election night. One politician described the phenomenon as getting trapped inside your own campaign bubble, but we'd like to think of it like living in a hall of mirrors for two years before suddenly falling out of an open window.
Even if an inkling of a shadow of defeat lingers outside the corner of your eyesight, what are you supposed to do with that information but suppress it? By November, even the most unlikely presidential candidates have thousands (if not millions) of people working for them, believing in them, naming their newborns after them. Nobody wants to tell baby Albertgore's parents that they picked a terrible name for their child.
Spoiler: State kills Albertgore.
Things don't get better years after the election, either. George McGovern was asked by Walter Mondale when the loss stops hurting, and McGovern's answer was "never." George H.W. Bush, in what might be the most inappropriate metaphor to use in an American political campaign, described feeling like a "slow-moving target" during his unsuccessful campaign for reelection. And Richard Nixon said he didn't think he would've survived his 1960 loss if he had any feelings.
4The Secret Service Drops You Like A Bad Habit
The Secret Service are employed to look after very important people, and of course to pinkie swear to withhold all the gossip they hear at their boss' sleepovers. Every serious contender for leader of the Free World gets an entourage of these agents to make sure they can operate their campaign in safety and to make them feel like they're hot stuff.
Agent Johnson was tasked specifically with complimenting McCain's rap skills.
If you lose the race, the service makes no secret of how little you now matter. There is no set limit for when the Secret Service will drop a defeated candidate. At most, they'll hang around for a week. At worst, your once mighty team of serious guys in sunglasses disintegrates into the darkness while you're sleeping off your loss. Mitt Romney went to his concession speech in a 15-car motorcade. He came home in a single-car cade driven by his son Tagg, as if he was getting picked up from a doctor's appointment.
But even without your entourage, you still have the notoriety of a presidential candidate without any of the safeguards. Mitt Romney lost, but people didn't immediately forget who he is because of that. Which probably explains why the world has been blessed with pictures of Romney in a dollar store and Jeb Bush wandering the streets of Boston like an extra on Rizzoli & Isles.