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A parting shot for ‘Campaign 2004’

Over the next few weeks, you’ll see the theme from both parities that it is time to “put the past behind us.” For one, it’s to console their base who fought ever so hard for a victory that wasn’t meant to be. For the other, it’s a plea for acceptance from what became very bitter foes.

If you get the chance, watch the concession speech again. Sure, he’s disappointed that he lost, but there is a lot to be admired in the character of the defeated. It would be just as easy to send out a press secretary (who, in a few hours, was losing his or her job), to deliver a few pleasantries and make that long journey back to Washington to finish out their term.

Instead, the mood is upbeat. Surrounded by your most loyal supporters who defended you from every attack from the other side, who made light of your verbal missteps, who even took on your identity before large crowds of feverish supporters, you have to get up to that microphone and say something … anything.

The first thing to do is simply say “thanks.” Millions of people were ready to travel across the country on a whim just to spread the message. They endured the heavy rains at busy intersections all across this great country. They contributed time and money to the election, and deserve, if nothing else, a word of thanks.

Anything said after the expressions of gratitude is simply filler, because in any concession speech, the message is always the same.

The political season is brutal on the soul of the nation. Even so, we pride ourselves in our democratic process. What we settle with constant debates, polls, advertising and overall mud slinging is settled with guns and bombs in other parts of the world. No matter how heated the endless debates could have been, we’re fortunate to live in this country.

I say all of this because this campus is just like the nation. We live in a state that the pundits had long dismissed as a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t change the emotions.

Republicans, Democrats, Independents alike all fought hard on this campus as well. Some silently sent e-mail broadcasts, some put stickers on their cars or signs in their yard. They gave of themselves for a cause they believed was great. It happens every four years.

Some will say that politicians are just corrupt individuals well trained in the language of empty rhetoric, but many UTM students have higher ambitions to change all of that. To the next generation of leaders, I salute you.

Remember where you’ve come from, and who helped get you there. In winning and losing, always remember to say “thanks.”

Stephen Yeargin is a junior Communications major from Nashville, Tenn. This was his first presidential election in which he was of age to vote.