Alan Zendell, November 6, 2019
Embedded deeply in my philosophy is the belief that baseball is an excellent metaphor for life. When the Washington Nationals completed their unlikely fight to win the World Series two weeks ago, their radio voice, Charlie Slowes said, “Remember where you were and what you were doing today. You may never see anything like this again.” He wasn’t suggesting that the Nationals would never win again, but that their fight for the championship, (in May they were given only a 1.5% chance to make the playoffs,) was one for the ages.
The team’s response to being invited to the White House was itself a metaphor. Seven players declined to attend in protest of the president’s policies, while most went along silently and two notably spoke in praise of the president. I was honestly in pain when team captain Ryan Zimmerman, my favorite Nationals player for fifteen years and a man generally regarded as a class act, praised Trump. I don’t know whether he was just being polite or he really meant what he said, but that too speaks volumes about the state of the nation. How many of us have had to question our relationships with friends and loved ones because of Trump?
After yesterday’s election results, I must reiterate what Charlie Slowes said. This moment will live in my memory as the day Trump’s decline began in earnest. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when John F. Kennedy faced off against Nikita Khrushchev in the Caribbean waters off the coast of Cuba; likewise, the day Kennedy was murdered. I remember where I was and who I was with when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, and when the Amazing Mets won their first World Series the same year. Today is even more momentous, an inflection point in our history, changing our national trajectory from Trumpism back to the principles on which America was founded.
Matt Bevin lost the Kentucky governor’s race to Andy Beshear in the reddest of red states for a number of reasons. Bevin ran for re-election as a Trump sycophant, and lost despite a last minute Trump rally in Lexington the night before the election. He lost because he attempted to govern like Trump while lacking the singular talent Trump possesses, the charismatic ability to sway masses of people without ever uttering a word of truth.
Beshear’s victory (I’m certain it will survive a recount) is yet another metaphor for American life. Like Trump, Bevin attacked the basic cornerstones of our values. He attempted to trash the financial well-being of teachers, police, and other civil servants, and denigrated our legal system. But even in a state Trump won by thirty points in 2016, Kentuckians proved their mettle yesterday. They showed that they understand that their future depends on public education and safety.
Imagine the plight of a teacher who has devoted her life to educating young people; someone who accepts twelve-hour workdays earning far less than comparably educated professionals in almost every other career path; someone who never expects to live in a fancy house or drive a Mercedes, because teaching is her chosen calling. And in a state like Kentucky, she has to deal with regressive attitudes that restrict academic curricula, especially in science. She’s down with all that, until her Trump-wannabe governor tries to trash her retirement system. Kentucky teachers saw it happening, and they said, “No.”
Virginia, once a highly coveted swing state, turned completely blue on Tuesday. For the first time in twenty-five years, Democrats control both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature. Virginia remains polarized on issues like gun control and health care, but Tuesday showed that its majority sentiment is to end the hate-inspired nativism and divisiveness that has characterized Trump’s time in office. And Virginia values its teachers.
Even Mississippi, which elected a Republican governor by a nine point edge, was part of the negative response to Trumpism. The last governor’s race in Mississippi went to a Republican by a margin of two-to-one.
While I strongly believe yesterday’s election was a tipping point, more precisely an extension of the trend begun in the 2018 Congressional election, this is no time to fall asleep at the wheel.
Democrats have the momentum they need to reverse the evils of the last three years, but they can also blow it if they’re not careful. The message is clear. Democrats will win with centrist candidates. In the current Democratic primary field, that means people like Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar. While I have great respect for Elizabeth Warren, her long-time advocacy for what most Americans regard as socialism make her the wrong candidate for 2020.
Happy days aren’t here again yet, but I plan to spend today rejoicing anyway.