5 Ways Losing The Presidency Sucks Even More Than You Think
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.
Losing 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.
The 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.
Pictured: Four people with the exact same amount of presidential tenure.
Whatever Career You Had Before Running Is Likely Ruined
Entering a presidential campaign requires the entirety of your existence to be oriented toward the White House. Some states even have laws preventing you from running for higher office while seeking reelection. Even if you aren't already a politician, media work and other corporate positions usually have to be dropped for a real chance of winning the job. In any other context, betting your livelihood on a role that becomes available only every four years would be a cruel joke. Imagine forcing a customer service agent to quit their job before they turn in an application for management and, once submitted, the application process is two years long.
So five times a day, he emails you about his Kickstarter, saying, "You and I can change the world!"
We know what you're thinking at this point: Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are going to suddenly find themselves sending out their resumes the day after the election. They'll be FINE selling books or doing segments on Fox News or showing off the state of Alaska on TLC.
But then what?
Donald Trump isn't an elected official; he's a businessperson (which is either one of his best or worst features). And like any other businesspeople running for the highest office in the land, Trump's current business has begun to suffer. Data from Foursquare indicates that there's been a drop in traffic to his casinos, giant walls, and other business ventures. It ranges from a 14 percent fall overall in July to a fall of 29 percent among women in blue states. There's plenty of people willing to gamble on The Don, but the numbers willing to gamble in his establishments are dropping because of his presidential run. And he hasn't even lost yet.
Here's one candidate less likely to score a reality TV gig afterward.
It's been close to four years since Michele Bachmann ran for president, and things have turned into a shit sandwich since then. She's been under two separate ethics investigations, one for coordinating inappropriately with a super PAC and another for using her campaign staff to promote her autobiography, Core Of Conviction.
"Pose naturally, Michele! No, naturally! A little more natural. Got it!"
Bachmann went downhill with such velocity that at the bottom of said hill she continued to plummet underground. For being a politician good enough to be a contender but not good enough to win, Bachmann was forced out of politics altogether.
She did receive something to keep her warm at night from the debacle, though -- a romance novel inspired by her career, Fires Of Siberia. We assume the author will pen a similar story about Trump's campaign titled Another Dick In The Wall.
Somewhat illogically, those who are talented and popular enough to gain their parties' nomination are usually no longer competent enough to have a role in the party after they lose. The stench of losing is that overwhelming. The last time a losing candidate became leader of their party afterward was in the '50s. Yes, Senator John McCain is still kicking around in Congress and John Kerry did get that secretary of state job, but most losers end up going back to whatever it was they did before politics.
Producing an award-winning PowerPoint presentation is the best-case scenario.
The stench of loss doesn't just mark you within your own party. It's the people who smell it, too: Approval ratings plummet for losing candidates. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all sitting governors during their campaigns, and all except Kasich ended up at all-time lows in terms of popularity in their home states because of it. Polls measure plenty of metrics, but clearly there needs to be a "Jealousy" category, because all of these supporters were extremely upset by their governors being out all night, night-after-night, courting the entire damn country.
Even if they were complete duds on the big trail, politicians like Rick Perry and Bill Richardson entered their presidential campaigns after decades of service and effort. And when they came back out of it, the states that had backed them for so long decided they didn't have a use for their enduring leaders anymore. By going for that juicy presidential fruit, they essentially got tossed out of the states they represented. There's no looking back once you go in the big race, unless you want to be turned into a pillar of salt.
You Have To Burn Countless Bridges Just To Have A Chance
Voters get argumentative about Left v. Right, but when it comes to the politicians, they care only about being On Top. Getting into the White House usually requires a more moderate stance than Congressional elections do, and by making the effort to pivot between these points, those who fail in their bid find themselves members of a party that's none too pleased with them.
Post-1996, he did nothing for the Republican party, save sell them Viagra.
Take the man who sounds like he's correcting himself every time he speaks his full name, Chris Christie. Back in 2013, Christie neglected Republican legislators during his governor race, instead working with the Democrats to gain bipartisan support that he could parlay into a run for president. At first, this worked marvelously, making him a favorite for the top job in 2016, along with Hillary Clinton.
But then, scandal struck, with emails suggesting Christie knew about controversial closures of lanes on a high-traffic bridge on the Hudson. And by burning all the Republican bridges (and closing all the New Jersey ones), Christie was left with no allies to cross over and keep him from drowning in the big race.
Plus, no one will forgive him for fathering that kid with Obama.
Marco Rubio was pushing himself into the national spotlight for years before the 2016 Republican race. If he had become president, we might've talked about it as a masterstroke. But by neglecting his Republican base in Florida, he lost all his most ardent supporters, who found solace in the cozy orange bosom of Donald Trump.
Ted Cruz entered the Republican race with a lot of promise, and he left it with a promise of an extremely difficult future. When he tried to distance himself from the Republican party by calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar, he lost the few friends he may have had in the Senate. Cruz didn't win the nomination, let alone the presidency, and by trying to appeal to everybody, he's been left with nobody.
Forcing him to consider the prospect of falling back to his previous job as Jabba's translator.
Few other jobs require you to jeopardize all your professional relationships just to apply. But hey, that's what it takes to be president.
You Have To Keep Raising Money After You Lose
The worst news of all for presidential losers is that their campaign bills don't disappear after America tells them to fuck off. Running a campaign requires millions of dollars in signs, transportation, ads, consulting services, and, most importantly, ugly-ass hats and ugly-ass wine glasses. And the people who provide those services and stuff expect to be paid, even after you've been told to take your signs and go home. In fact, the government doesn't consider the campaign technically over until the debt is paid off.
And you thought Visa and MasterCard could fuck up your shit?
Things might be looking rosy for Hillary Clinton this year, but it took her four years to finish paying off the $12 million in debt from her 2008 campaign. Newt Gingrich still owes over $4 million to people who helped him run for president in 2012. At age 73, we're guessing he's going to let the clock run out on those bills.
Governor Scott Walker immediately started panhandling to pay off the $1.2 million he accrued in bills during his three months of running for president. Have you ever wondered why recently defeated candidates will turn around and bust butts for their opponents? It's because the losers are still in fundraising mode and their best chance of getting the slate wiped clean lies with the headliner, aka the guy who's going to get the nomination. Which is why we saw Donald Trump hold a fundraiser for his old nemesis, Chris Christie.
Christie doesn't want to be vice president. He just wants the loan sharks to spare his legs.
One thing is certain: If Donald Trump loses, he won't be in that much debt. Ten of his top staff members, some of whom would earn six figures working for anyone else, haven't been paid yet. And if The Donald has proven anything, it's that he can walk away from any financial disaster completely unscathed.
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