Gutman: Celebrate champions

I saw the Detroit Red Wings celebrate their Stanley Cup victory in 1998. I also stayed up through the night this summer when the Celtics captured their 17th NBA title — not because I was excited, but because some idiots wouldn’t stop honking their horns at 3 a.m. As I lay awake hating Ford, General Motors and Kevin Garnett for depriving me of my sleep, I wondered why people really cared. You won the championship. So what?

The season in which you won the title is over. And as a fan, you don’t get a championship ring. In fact, the greatest season your team may have during your lifetime has come to an end. Shouldn’t you be mourning?

No — we celebrate championships for two reasons. We rejoice in an accomplishment: a team, an organization and a fan base asserted superiority. We were part of a team that proved it was the best for that season.

But we rejoice in glory for a far more important reason: the promise of the future. A championship means that the team will now leads the pack heading into the next season. Winning means that the future will be better than the past. Championships mean there are more celebrations to come.

Politics is usually the same — one team beats the other team. A drunk fan takes off his shirt and gloats about his victory. And the other team waits for vengeance.

On Tuesday night — as a bunch of clearly intoxicated freshmen danced around Old Campus, as Chicagoans reveled in Grant Park and as Kenyans slaughtered a bull — Democrats everywhere celebrated. Republicans moped and waited for a chance to strike back.

The goal of government, however, is not to pit factions against one another; it is to produce the optimal outcome for all of society.

On Tuesday night, Democrats enjoyed their achievement and the fruits of their labor. They had won a championship. But beyond that, there was a deeper purpose to their shouts of jubilation. Like fans of the Celtics, they too believed that next season would be even better than this last one.

But the better future they were celebrating had nothing to do with the next election season. Democrats were not reveling in the hopes of delegitimizing the Republican Party in the next elections. What sustained Tuesday night’s parties was the hope that the next year would be better for America than the last; that the next four years will be greater than the last four.

Democrats were not only celebrating an electoral victory, but rather their optimism for a new direction for America. Both Barack Obama and John McCain admirably advanced their ideas for change. The important thing for all Americans is to recognize that one of them will now lead the country, hopefully towards more prosperous times.

So while Republicans may now be reading this column in their rooms grumbling about the results of the election, I urge you to stop. Instead, join the celebration. Democrats are not celebrating your loss nor their victory. They are reveling in the prospect of economic growth and international stability. Republicans share those same goals, although they may disagree on the means by which they should be reached.

A new era in America is rising. This era is one in which the phrase, “united we stand, divided we fall,” will be as true as it has been since the Civil War. If Republicans decide to boo the victors, as I did when the Red Wings beat my Capitals in the Stanley Cup, the Obama administration and our nation will crumble. I could root for the Red Wings to fail in the future, and it wouldn’t hurt me, but if the country fails, it will hurt us all. If Republicans can celebrate a new age and work with Democrats to create an America in which everyone’s priorities are country first (sound familiar?) and party second, we can all be champions.

Collin Gutman is a junior in Pierson College.

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