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Walk-away talk

It’s easy to say “no” but not as easy to say “yes”


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It’s a whole lot easier saying “no” in a multitude of life’s decisions and choices than it is to embrace something that works.

Certainly that is also the case with the road that leads us to the selection of a new president in November of 2024. Between now and then we will say “no” to hundreds of candidates we think are less than competent to lead the world’s most important nation. Meanwhile, we’ll put all kinds of energy and resources into the choice of just one of those candidates, to whom we will say “yes.” More on that later.

But just to make the point:

As we aim down the path to marriage, we say “no” to dozens of good folks—many of whom might have made wonderful partners—so that we can focus on that one person who becomes the spectacular “yes” of our life.

The probability of a satisfying “deal” at your car dealer is somewhat related to the number of times you said “no.”

Similarly, we pore through dozens of college and university catalogs and websites, finally saying “no” to almost all of them while latching our hopeful “yes” onto the magic few that we dream will change our lives forever. So let me ask: Are you happy right now with the changes your college choice made in your life so far?

We do the same with our homes, hoping the realtor’s ratio of homes shown to homes sold might be tolerably low or tolerably high, depending on whether we’re buying or selling.

Or with our automobiles. The probability of a satisfying “deal” the last time around at your car dealer is, if you stop to think about it, somewhat closely related to the number of times you said “no” and walked away from some other deal(s).

But back to the political scene, where I hear more and more talk from voters who wish they had a chance to “walk away from the deal.” That “deal” might still be Donald Trump’s first nomination as Republican candidate in 2016, his election as president later that year, or more vividly these days, Joe Biden’s election in 2020 and performance as president since then.

Most public and compelling of all that “walk away” talk for me has been an editorial feature in a late March issue of The Wall Street Journal. The feature followed the remarkably careless slipup by Biden asserting in public the need to have Russian President Vladimir Putin removed from office. Biden’s advisers had to walk back the statement immediately, knowing how much more difficult it would make any future negotiations with Putin. The slipup prompted some “walk away” talk, including, apparently, “fire Biden” letters to the WSJ.

The WSJ was more practical and more sensible. Here is how they played it:

“The reality is that we have to live with Mr. Biden for three more years as President. And please stop writing letters imploring us to demand that Mr. Biden resign. Do you really want Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office? She was chosen as a bow to identity politics to unite the Democratic Party in the election campaign, not for her ability to fill the President’s shoes. In the last 14 months she has failed to demonstrate even the minimum knowledge or capacity for the job. We are fated to make the best of the President we have.”

The WSJ covers its tracks pretty well by reminding its readers that not once in almost 100 years (not since 1928) has that venerable newspaper and/or its noteworthy editorial staffs endorsed a presidential candidate. That’s a record of saying “no” to which all news outlets should aspire.


Joel Belz

Joel is WORLD’s founder. He contributes regular commentary for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Radio. Joel has served as editor, publisher, and CEO over three decades at WORLD and is the author of Consider These Things. Joel resides with his wife, Carol, near Asheville, N.C.

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