There's nothing worse than a sore loser.

Except a sore winner.

And while more than $5 trillion in federal deficits during the current presidency should be the decisive issue, we'll have an ample surplus of both sore losers and sore winners regardless of who wins Tuesday's election.

OK, so it's hard to make nice in the wake of defeat or victory against opposition that has called your guy a liar, cheat, communist, fascist, war-on-women wager and/or other bad names.

Especially when you think the opposition's guy is a liar, cheat, communist, fascist and/or war-on-women wager.

Hey, nobody's perfect.

And in our ongoing, inevitably imperfect experiment in self-government, we should strive to graciously congratulate election winners and compassionately console election losers. After all, we really are all in this democratic republic together, whether we're Democrats, Republicans, independents or some other political species.

Whoever wins the White House on Tuesday (or whenever they finally figure who got the most electoral votes) will be our president, whether we like it — or him — or not.

Yes, both sides have issued frantic warnings about the dire consequences if the wrong man prevails.

Yes, we make our case that Mitt Romney is the right man on the facing page, and believe Americans face a crucial choice.

However, lest you flee the country if this election doesn't go your way, ponder the enduring wisdom of Duane Thomas.

Asked four decades ago what it meant to play in “the ultimate game,” which in that case was the looming Super Bowl VI, the star running back replied: “If it's the ultimate game, how come they're playing it again next year?”

So if this is the ultimate presidential election, how come they're holding another one in 2016?

Thomas led “America's Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, to a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

But if President Barack Obama keeps leading America after Tuesday's election, he won't really nationalize all private property.

If Romney takes Obama's job, he won't really privatize all government obligations.

Meanwhile, if you had interviewed as many candidates as we on the editorial staff have lately, you'd know that all of them really seem to mean well.

If you keep an open mind, that reassuring dynamic covers virtually all political races.

It's downright inspiring at the local level, where lots of qualified, earnest folks have poured a lot of time and resources into their commitments to make a positive school-board difference.

So commit to the quest of being a good sport about how the election turns out, which hinges, as usual, on who turns out to vote.

And as you root for your presidential pick, root, too, for him to capture an undisputed victory in both the popular and electoral votes. In an election year fraught with competing charges of “voter fraud” and “voter suppression,” the last thing the victor and our nation need is the taint of a questionable outcome.

As for the familiar complaint that only the voters in 10 or so “swing states” will decide who wins the White House, don't let that stop you from casting a presidential ballot in our state, which is a lock to make it nine straight S.C. victories for the Republican nominees.

Sure, the Electoral College determines the outcome.

But the national popular vote counts for something, too. Twelve years ago, it gave Al Gore a consolation prize of sorts — and George W. Bush a heavy presidential burden.

And if you haven't made up your mind yet, even after reading our well-informed endorsements, consider this chilling correlation between the last two presidents and another heated competition:

During the presidency of the second President Bush, Clemson went 6-2 in football against South Carolina. Yet after going 40 years without back-to-back victories over Clemson, the Gamecocks have won three in a row over the Tigers — all during the Obama presidency.

You think four years of Obama as president is an extended ordeal?

Try three straight years — with more to come? — of not beating USC if you're a Clemson fan.

So make your self-governing voice heard.

But please, if your guy loses, don't sulk and whine.

And if he wins, don't rub it in.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.