Many countries, developed or underdeveloped, have struggled to solve the problem of electoral malpractice for decades. The situation has been worsened by the advancement of technology in which computer hackers can manipulate the voting machines and gain easy access to confidential voting material to influence the outcome of the elections. To avenge their unfair defeat, some legislators have resorted to taking the law into their own hands through guerilla wars and civil disobedience. Although some freedom fighters have succeeded in overthrowing dictatorial regimes through the barrel of the gun, bloodshed and violence should not be used as bargaining chips in future political negotiations. When the war happens, innocent women and children are the ones who carry the heavy burdens. Those who resort to cruelty after their defeat expose their true character: they are not interested in serving their people; their predisposition to ruthlessness suggests that their ambitions to serve their constituents are driven by their personal and political self interests. Here are the eleven commandants for winning after the unfair loss of an election:
1. Losing is not the end of the world: If you played by the rules, but lost unfairly, it means that you still enjoy the good will of your electorates, and so it is critical that you consolidate that support by staying in touch with your staffers and agents. It is also imperative that you acknowledge their contributions towards your successes. Recognizing and rewarding their hard work rekindles their hope and builds their confidence in you and your ability to lead.
2. It is okay to resolve your grievances through the courts of law: Using the legal system does some good things: it reminds the fraudulent politicians of their responsibilities to their voters; corruption is exposed; the landmark case upon which future court cases could be argued and decided is created; and it puts electoral riggers on the defensive, hence demystifying their invincibility.
3. The bush is not the safest place to be: The world is tired of wars. Guerilla activities yield nothing other than more death and more suffering. The situations in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Libya, Somalia and many other nations in the world are a constant reminder that dialogue trumps guns and ammunitions. With the advancement of technology, a drone operated by a remote control tens of thousands of miles away can hunt down the renegades and bring them to book.
4. We cannot have two leaders at a time: Regardless of how someone won the election, it is crucial that we give him or her a chance to do his or her job and wait for our turn. If the losers are harassed after their questionable defeat, the proof will be clearer: the winners are politically disoriented, temperamentally unfit and dangerously unqualified to lead.
5. Dialogue is the most important communication skill: Donít confuse pugnacious or combative behavior with constructive discussion to resolve problems. The natural disposition to be aggressive and belligerent when one has been treated unfairly leads to antagonism and intransigence, and this does not yield a compromise in a conflict resolution situation. Despite the fact that many peace talks in the troubled nations have been labeled "peace jokes," effective dialogue has gone a long way in quelling situations that could have potentially become strong bedrocks for genocide or mass murder around the world.
6. Be pro-active rather than reactive: Stop whining and complaining to whomever cares to listen to you about your unjust loss. Use this time to reflect on what went wrong and what you need to change in your campaign strategy to emerge victorious in the next election. Whenever necessary, take a tactical retreat. Your rivals might have blackmailed you and wounded you emotionally, but steer clear of any controversies that could hurt your character further. Temper down your rhetoric and anger and plan for a better tomorrow. What difference does it make if your anger and outbursts embolden your enemies? It is okay to disagree, but when you do, let it be done in a gracious and professional way that benefits you and repairs your credibility. Be the adult in the room. Reach out to your adversaries during moments when they are not trigger-happy. Be the good guy, and the plethora of opportunities will open up for you.
7. Donít be idle and disorderly: One day I asked a colleague of mine, a professor, why he was still teaching with all the accomplishments he had attained in his personal and professional lifeóhe had written many books, he had travelled the world, and he had taught at many prestigious universities across the globe. His response was that he needed an address and that he loved grooming the young minds, the leaders of tomorrow. I learned a lot from him. Likewise, during your strategic retreat, find an occupation. Find an address. Resume your normal life. I have seen some aspiring congressmen and women remain jobless while making many unforced and regrettable errors. There is one gentleman in my district who wanted to become a senator by all means necessary and inadvertently pronounced dead one of his opponents and pleaded with the people to vote for him because he himself was still alive.
8. Wait for your turn: We have a very big problem of traffic jam in our world today. Although to a larger degree this is due to the voluminous and ever-growing transportation industry, to a lesser extent, the mess is caused by our impatience. You go to the bank and are number one in line, but before you know it, you are number ten because nine other people have suddenly cut through the line in front of you. You donít want to drive during rush hours in our brave new world. Everybody cuts everybody off, and if you are not a steady driver, crazy drivers can easily knock sunshine out of you. Some them drive over shoulders, others on pavements, and the majority in trenches, and if it were possible, some would operate their vehicles on top of each other or on building roof tops. This is the same thing with our anxious politicians. They are not willing to stand in line and wait for their turn. My advice? Stand in line in a grocery store. Make a queue at a petrol station. Read the warning signs in coffee houses. Be careful; donít step on someoneís toes while trying to beat him to the newly released quarter pound cheese burger at the fast food restaurant. Stand in line. No VIPs, please!
9. Get involved: Instead of spending your entire adult life criticizing your enemies, get involved in service delivery. Be the difference maker. The more you fight and verbally abuse your antagonists without showing your record of accomplishments, the more you augment their popularity and their savagery behavior toward your character. There is need for good performing schools, build one; well-equipped hospitals are in short supply, advocate one; dig wells and repair broken boreholes to provide your electorates with safe and clean drinking water.
10. Rest: Even God rested on the seventh day. After a strenuous and odious electoral process, take a well-deserved rest. Do something to relax your mind: play some sports, join some dancing and singing clubs, take a vacation, spend some quality time with your loved ones, or sit down and eat your vegetables.
11. Last but not least, pray. Donít live as though the Supreme Being does not exist. Consult your spiritual director or adviser. You may not like hearing him or her tell you that "the Almighty loves you," because you are angry for losing an election, but indeed He loves you. Your time is not His time.