It's the most wonderful time of the year! The political junkie in me is thrilled with the nonstop conversations about presidential politics and the baseball fan in me is thrilled that Spring Training has officially opened. Of course this year, both above-mentioned parts of my psyche are in full panic mode. Not only did Red Sox 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval (known as Panda) report to spring training looking like he gained a whole Dustin Pedroia, it is unclear at this writing exactly where Dustin Pedroia is. While I am quite certain that his slow-to-show is no reflection on his enthusiasm for the season and I want to be clear that I am NOT concerned Panda that ate him, it is worth noting (with anxiety) because Pedroia is usually early-to-show.
All kidding aside, the panic in my political brain is far more serious. Donald Trump has now won two primaries. I will say it again: Donald Trump has won two primaries. On the Democratic side, folks are "feelin' the Bern" and this too angry, too old socialist has not lost momentum. Welcome to the year of the extremes.
People who vote for Trump and Sanders are sending a message by rejecting traditional candidates. Republican primary voters are looking for someone to shake things up and get things done. Sanders supporters are taking a hard left turn with a rallying cry of ending income inequality and adding entitlement programs. While Sanders policies are extreme, his path to the White House still has to go through a Democratic nominating process where Hillary Clinton has a lead and an organizational edge. Democratic voters who are "feelin' the Bern" now may decide "I'm okay with her" when the chips are down. If Sanders wins the nomination, I suspect he loses in the general election: there are simply too many people in this country who believe in lower taxes and less government to vote in a self-described tax-increasing socialist.
Trump. Ugh. Even if I agreed with his politics (and I don't) he acts as if this campaign is just one long episode of "The Apprentice" and the stakes are just a job at a cool office building. To him it may seem like another adventure, but being president of the United States comes with some serious responsibilities and I for one, am concerned that Trump does not possess the temperament or self control to do the job. I don't know what would happen if Trump called Kim Jong-un a "pansy" — and I don't want to risk finding out. What concerns me most about Trump is that he appeals to independent-minded (“swing”) voters and those that don't pay a lot of attention to politics — in other words — he appeals to exactly the kind of people who show up at the polls every four years and vote for the names that they recognize. Double ugh.
There are still many contests to decide - and a brokered convention to get through - so I'm not panicking today. But if Panda doesn't slim down and Trump doesn't tank, it's going to be a rough season all around.