I’m a political junkie and a sports fanatic. I’m also a Democrat who hails from Chicago, which means that since Michael Jordan left the Bulls and since Bill Clinton left the presidency, I’ve had to cope with a deep and intense pain every single season of the year.
So I was standing there, watching the election returns come in, and I glanced over to my girlfriend who was on the verge of tears as we watched Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry lose. She looked up at me, as if for some reassurance, and I stoically looked back and comforted her in a way only a Chicagoan could.
“Well, there’s always next year.” Or in this case, there’s always the next four years.
Maybe I’m secretly a masochist. Every fall, winter, spring and summer, my friends ask me, “You don’t really expect the Bears/Cubs/Bulls to win, do you?” Every two years, they ask me, “You can’t possibly expect the Democrats to win, can you?” Oh, I believe. I believe so hard it hurts.
My donkeys and my Cubbies may not always have the best rotation of politicians and pitchers, but just because the pitcher gave up a few runs early on doesn’t mean one leaves before the game is over. We at least get drunk first.
So when John Kerry was behind in the count after the Swift-Boat ads, I persevered. After Kerry was tarred and feathered as a “flip-flopper,” I kept on hoping for that one Hail Mary play that would put us within striking distance of Bush. Just because the quarterback is having a bad election doesn’t mean you give up on the entire team.
Having undying loyalty to a sports team makes you believe that no matter what, no matter how many games behind they are, no matter how many points they’re down by, no matter how many straight years they’ve lost – there’s always hope. The same thing applies to the Democratic Party. The Dems are my team, and I’m an ardent fan; only, instead of batting statistics, I look at poll numbers. In the place of Monday Night Football, there are the presidential debates. Either way, I end up screaming at the TV like a loon.
To me, the only real difference between sports and politics is that in a two-party system, at least my donkeys are assured a playoff position every election season. Can’t say the same for my Cubbies. Or my Bears. Or my Bulls.
Despite the pain of loss, I would never join the Green Party because they have nowhere near the history and tradition of the Democratic Party. In that way, the Green Party is sort of like Chicago White Sox fans (For non-Chicagoans, the White Sox and the Cubs parallel the rivalry between the Lakers and the Kings): They bitch and whine a whole lot about the team that’s right next door, yet they are unable to fill their stands with enough spectators to have a decent after-party. But, most importantly, their mascot sucks. A leaf? What in the hell is a leaf? I’m a strict animal-only mascot man.
But, regardless, I’m taking Kerry’s loss stoically, even though I haven’t been this sad since the guy from Sublime died. It’s part of the game. No team can be number one forever, and we can’t always draft a Bill Clinton for our cause. I’ll say to my fellow Democrats and Bush-haters what I tell my fellow Cubs fans: You win some and you lose some, but most of the time, you lose some.
The words “number two” may have two different meanings, but in both sports and politics they mean the same thing – shit. So we lost. We’ll have the opportunity to work on our ground game in the off-season, however. A good fan never loses hope, because there is always next year – or in this case, the next four years.
Neil Visalvanich is a senior history and political science major.