Even though there’s no baseball being played in New England right now, I have been glued to the playoffs and will be thrilled to watch an Indians-Cubs World Series. I’m sure I am not the only Red Sox fan to be a little excited to see what I think of as a Theo-Tito-Lester-Lackey-Coco-Ross reunion, bringing together players and managers who were part of our three World Series wins. I’ll be rooting for the Cubs because I still have phantom pains from being a pre-2004 Sox fan and am hoping that Chicago can enjoy the same catharsis that spread across New England twelve years ago.
I’m also hoping that having a new President-elect in less than two weeks will also give us the mental cleansing need after being subjected to the most negative and brutal campaign in modern times. This has been an exceptionally bad campaign and I am hoping that it is the exception and doesn’t become the kind of campaign that Americans expect. It would be hard to find two worse candidates or ones with more mud to toss at each other.
For the winner and his or her followers, the real work will begin when the votes are finally counted. No matter who wins this campaign is destined to end with some very angry voters on the losing side and no clear mandate for governing. It’s probably hard for them to believe, but governing is much harder than campaigning. Governing while trying to win a second term is even more difficult as campaign promises often collide with the politics of Capitol Hill or what can conceivably be accomplished in a four-year term. While most readers will groan at the thought that the new President is thinking about a second term already, I can guarantee that re-election is at the top of the first term agenda. And governing effectively when close to half the electorate voted against you and thinks you’re unfit for office? Nearly impossible.
For the loser and his or her followers, I hope that they recover quickly. Few disappointments are as stinging as being rejected by the electorate and all the “what ifs” and “you shouldas” roll in every day. If we have any hope of moving forward and away from the unpleasantness of this campaign, we will need some leadership from the loser. He or she will need to set an example for his or her followers, be gracious in defeat and then be quiet for a while. The country does not need — and certainly voters do not want — to have a heckler mocking the new President’s every move.
What I like about baseball is that no matter how hard-fought the games are, there’s always some grace in losing because you were beaten fair and square. The curse of this campaign cycle is that there’s been nothing fair about the process on either side and it yielded two candidates with very little common ground and even less appeal. It’s going to take some time to bounce back, but there’s always hope. After all, we’ve got a Cubs-Indians World Series, making it a very special year.