Last Wednesday I did something I never typically do, and watched the World Series even though it had zero Mets representation. I was even rooting for one side, Chicago, on the sole basis of their 108-year drought of Championship titles. I couldn’t tell you one Cubs player, one Cubs coach and I kept second guessing myself as to which team was on the National League (Cubs) and which was on the American League (Indians). But I felt in this match-up of World Series-starved teams, Chicago was in greater need of the win. And in a series down 3-1, they were the underdogs of all underdogs.
Game 7 was good baseball. Chicago was first to score, but then it was tied, and Chicago pulled ahead, and Cleveland tied it up again. The momentum moved from the Cubs to the Indians to the Cubs to the Indians and then back to the Cubs. It pulled me in. It put this die-hard second-generation Mets fan’s love of all things Blue and Orange allegiance to the side, and let me be enraptured by my love for the sport, my love of the game.
Honestly, for America ex-Chicago and ex-Cleveland, I don’t think it mattered who won this battle. Only 37 seasons in the 112 years of modern World Series Championships have come down to such a close call with a game 7 winner-take-all scenarios. Neither team was the incumbent champion. The last time Cleveland won the World Series, Truman was president. The last time the Cubs won the Fall Classic, Teddy Roosevelt was president, women didn’t have the right to vote and the Ford Model T was all the rage. Both teams were due, but it would take seven games, and extra innings to name the winner. It was a tight, close race.
While watching game 7 on live television, I was abruptly shaken from my love-of-baseball euphoria by ads for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the commercial breaks. And not because of the content of the ads, this campaign has been going on long enough, but I was surprised there actually were ads at all. Excuse my lack of media-buying knowledge, I’m not sure if those commercials were aired here in New York specifically or if everyone across the country were seeing the same ads at the same time. Because here in (down-state) New York, and in the Seventh Borough, we have made it to November without any real mass political solicitation by the presidential candidates. The local races are advertising like crazy, but Hillary and The Donald have sent me zero mail. Typical for national elections, I’m paid no mind. I’m not a political donor, I sway no constituencies, I’m from an undeniably ‘Blue’ state, I’m ignored from Day 1.
As this blog began in 2013, this is the Seventh Borough News’ first presidential election cycle, so here is where we get to be un-ignored. The election of 2016 has proved to be a tight, close race, especially as we wind up the last 48 hours of this mudslinger.
Like many of you, I cannot wait for this race to be over, but unlike the World Series (+/- Cleveland and Chicago), it does matter who wins this battle. And unlike the World Series, which brought fans and fans of other teams, like myself, together, hopeful for an elusive champion, this election has been divisive and full of anger. And the anger has turned into rage. And the rage has brought all our demons to the fore. And all the world is watching us become a worse version of ourselves. We’re basically a 240-year-old having a temper tantrum.
I may not be a political hack, but I am a mother of two young children, so I’m well versed in temper tantrums. Notably, they can sometimes be avoidable. If the child (or the country) has their needs met, sufficient food, rest, comfort and stimulation, you can typically avoid the meltdown. This is not always in your control, sometimes you get behind schedule, or you forget the diaper bag in the car, or you leave a favorite stuffed animal behind in a hotel room in Pennsylvania, and the world comes to an end on the Jersey turnpike. Nobody’s perfect, but we can anticipate the needs of our charges and act.
The United States of America is basically having a meltdown because the republic is angry. Our basic needs are not being met. Our wages are stagnant, yet healthcare costs and higher education costs are growing exponentially. Last week was open enrollment for our 2017 benefits at work, and as I clicked the link to the medical insurance premium data, I read the computer screen through squinted eyes and held my breath to see how much the increases would be for a family of four. I braced myself for bad news. I got through it. People are working harder and longer for less benefit, if they can even get the work they are seeking. Certain segments of the country have been left behind. On the Homefront, our security is at risk, and our protectors are also under threat. Our infrastructure is rusting. Our systems are dated. Our Veterans go without. Our population is changing. Certain segments of the population are growing more marginalized. Certain segments of the citizenry are getting wealthier and healthier and have all the right connections, while many others see no progress. We’re not “Young, scrappy and hungry”, but rather bloated, disengaged and litigious (and that doesn’t make for good lyrics). For the first time in maybe forever, there is a sentiment across the country that our children will NOT be better off than we are. The American Dream is dying.
That work-hard-make-progress contract between the governed and the governors, which has steadily fueled this country for more than two centuries, is at risk of being voided. Yet somewhere along this journey, we misinterpreted the signals. We’ve accepted that a deterioration of the social contract has granted us permission to be a republic behaving badly. Perhaps it’s due to the painfully slow ‘jobless recovery’ and the increasing threat of terrorism, greased by the ease and anonymity of social media account and internet posts, we’ve unleashed our latent racist, misogynistic and xenophobic tendencies for all the world to see. Let’s be honest, America, many of us have never worked through our demons, we just manage to keep them under wraps in front of the company.
This is disheartening, but what’s worse, is that this is mostly avoidable, so let’s avoid it. We can do better. We need to be good citizens and not raging haters. We need our leaders to get out of their cozy camps and anticipate the needs of their charges, and act. We need our leaders to work for the greater good, and not just themselves. We need the public sector to be about public service. We need the private sector to be accountable and involved. We need a balance, not a collusion, between the two sectors. The social contract needs to be repaired, re-written. Our tool for redrafting this contract is our vote.
This is the paragraph where I tell you it’s all going to be okay. I can’t write this paragraph convincingly, because I can’t even convince myself that it’s true.
But I can tell you this – despite the 108 years between Cubs’ championships, they had no shortage of support. The faith of the fans was always there. They showed up. If you believe we can do better, if you believe we deserve better, if you believe our children deserve better, then show up.
"Do Not Throw Away Your Shot!" (A.Ham)
"Do Not Throw Away Your Shot!" (A.Ham)