Thinking back on the election—as one who had expected and hoped for a much better showing for the Republicans—I was reminded of Kipling’s The Lesson, an English perspective on the Boer War. Naturally, there are many, many points of difference; yet I think there is still something helpful here:
Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should,
We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.
Not on a single issue, or in one direction or twain,
But conclusively, comprehensively, and several times and again,
Were all our most holy illusions knocked higher than Gilderoy’s kite.
We have had a jolly good lesson, and it serves us jolly well right! …
It was our fault, and our very great fault, and not the judgment of Heaven.
We made an Army in our own image, on an island nine by seven,
Which faithfully mirrored its makers’ ideals, equipment, and mental attitude—
And so we got our lesson: and we ought to accept it with gratitude.
We have spent two hundred million pounds to prove the fact once more,
That horses are quicker than men afoot, since two and two make four;
And horses have four legs, and men have two legs, and two into four goes twice,
And nothing over except our lesson—and very cheap at the price….
Let us approach this pivotal fact in a humble yet hopeful mood—
We have had no end of a lesson, it will do us no end of good!
It was our fault, and our very great fault—and now we must turn it to use.
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse….
Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should.