Saturday, October 22, 2016

What The Cubs And Their Fans Can Teach All Of Us

I started this blog nearly eight years ago (hard to believe now), with the intention of mostly venting my political spleen, but not doing so at the expense of other subjects that interested me.  That's been harder than I thought, in some ways.  Not because politics are the only thing I think about, or because it's the thing I think about the most.  It's mainly true because my mind tends to see the ways in which politics, and what we can learn about how to better practice it, manifests itself in decidedly unpolitical areas.

Like baseball, for instance.

I started out tonight with the intention of writing a congratulatory post to the Chicago Cubs, and especially to their (no longer) long-suffering fans.  And that's exactly how I want to begin:  with congratulations to the players, manager, coaches and management for an outstanding job on and off the field.  And with an even bigger, more heartfelt congratulations to the fans, many of whom have endured decades of frustration just to be able to enjoy this moment.  Many of whom, sadly, are no longer enjoying it in this realm of existence.  May there be many toasts in Chicago tonight, and over the next several days, to absent friends.

It was, however, precisely as I was watching on TV the largely peaceful (if also appropriately boisterous) celebration by the fans in the narrow streets surrounding Wrigley Field (and, as someone who walked them last summer, I can attest to their narrowness).  I found myself thinking of other championship celebrations in other cities, which ended in senseless violence that stands in opposition to every value sports should represent.  But not tonight in Wrigleyville.  That's not how Cubs fans roll, as it turns out.  Peace, along with joy, was the order of the evening--and, behind it all, the persistence that speaks for itself over the entire course of the team's history.  That persistence was, finally, well-rewarded tonight, and Cubs fans proved that they deserved it.

Fine words.  So what the hell do they have to do with politics?

It comes down to two words I just wrote a few seconds ago:  peace, and persistence.

Nearly sixteen years ago, progressives accepted an election "outcome" that was more of an outrage than an outcome.  Put simply, a Presidential election was stolen by a cabal of elected officials, and unelected ones on the Supreme Court.  In many countries, those on the "losing" side would have responded to violence, and many would have considered that to be an acceptable response under the circumstances.  It didn't happen.  It didn't happen for one simple reason--in this case, the "losing" side had enough faith in democracy's ability to overcome a sneak attack on it to honor that faith, and wait for a better day.  Eight years later, that better day came.

It is now eight years beyond that better day, and I find myself with a troubling mix of optimism and pessimism.  Optimism comes courtesy of the latest polls:  they suggest an easy victory for Hillary, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and perhaps enough Democratic gains in the House to move the overall balance of power in Washington in the correct direction.

But polls are not votes, and that's where the pessimism comes in, courtesy of a e-mail I received this evening from Michael Moore, in which he promotes his film on "Trumpland."  He describes Trump voters as being willing to walk through walls for their candidate, and Hillary voters as being perhaps consumed with enough doubt about her to sit at home and take their chances with fate, rather than "sully" their hands with a less-than-perfect outcome.

And he may be right.  But there's one big problem here.  The choice isn't between less-than-perfect and maybe-better-than-that.  It's between less-than-perfect and disaster.  And, if we get disaster, you may not have any hands left to sully.  And neither may your family, your friends, or anyone else you might care about.

And that's why persistence has to be the order of the day.  Persistence in the face of compromised options.  Persistence in the face of voting for less than we deserve.  Persistence in the face of asking this country to kick the can on its best destiny yet one more time.  Because that kind of persistence is the only way you get to join Dr. Martin Luther King at the mountaintop, seeing the promised land. You may not join those who get their but, with persistence, your eyes will see the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Dr. King told us also that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.  It takes a long time to learn the truth of that observation.  Cubs fans, thankfully, are experiencing the truth of it tonight.  We should take a cue from their persistence, and model it in order to get America to its own championship.  Let me boil this down as simply as possible:


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