Don’t Let The Hungry Deer Get You Down
By: Timothy Russo
So that was a hell of a ride! Coming up short of the goal is tough to get over, especially when you get oh so close. In 1988, I was a young pup intern for Dennis Kucinich’s primary against Mary Rose Oakar, which Dennis lost 75-25. We were all despondent. Dennis gave us one of those lessons that stick with you forever by saying, “I’d rather lose by 50 points than 2.” Ain’t that the truth.
Win or lose, social movements change the ground on which politics are fought. Sometimes that change isn’t immediately evident. For example, Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president was the natural result of the Occupy Wall Street movement. None of us Occupados could ever have predicted 5 years later the Occupy message would overtake American political discourse so thoroughly. OWS had just been brutally crushed, by Democratic Party mayors’ police forces. The movement splintered, factions spinning off in a thousand directions, recriminations and back-biting took over social media for months. It all seemed so hopeless.
We need to recognize our victories and learn from our defeats. Losing teaches you a lot more than winning, especially losing by a close margin. Each mistake is magnified for close examination to see how things should, could, have gone differently. The danger lies in obsessing over those mistakes to the exclusion of celebrating the positive.
All of which reminds me of the deer who eat my mother’s flowers.
As spring approaches, my mom goes outside to survey the coming blooms. So do the deer. Nearly every night there’s a casualty; an early rosebud chomped to the root, hyacinths plucked clean, black-eyed Susans devoured by the dozens, and the tulips. My god the tulips; do deer crave more for anything?
Like our democracy, it would be easy for Mom to give up on flower gardens. After all, she’s quite outnumbered by hungry deer. Mom could leave the ground around her home bare and messy, never tend to it, refuse it daily care, let it deteriorate into a home for weeds and parasites. It’s too much work.
But the flowers are worth the hard work. The work itself is fulfilling, even if it fails. Mom dutifully weeds the beds, waters through the parched summer, sprays deer repellant all over the place. Despite the daily carnage, so many flowers survive into the summer to produce a colorful garden. Eventually autumn arrives and she gives up for the year, letting the deer have their way. Winter brings rest, and time. Time to plan for next year’s fight for an even better flower garden.
So let’s all take a rest, enjoy the flowers that we’ve grown in the face of endless struggle, and plan the best way to return to the garden for the next season of change.