Thursday, December 22, 2016

261. The changing tides of 2016

As this year ends, so ends a remarkable year for Cleveland and around the country. For me, 2016 will be remembered as the year of sports and politics. This year had some moments of jubilation, while other events brought great despair.

For sports fans, 2016 will be the year Cleveland ended its championship drought when the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the heavily favored Golden State Warriors. The Warriors entered the playoffs with the best regular season in NBA history. I watched game 7 at sister’s house; we projected the game outside, she invited a few friends and it’s a moment we’ll never forget. Suddenly, when it came to Cleveland sports, the city could breath. My father was not a big Cavaliers fan, nonetheless, I wish he could have been there to share in the joy.

Cleveland hosted the Republican Convention after a wild primary season. No matter what Donald Trump did, didn’t do or was revealed about the man, he kept winning. On the Democratic side, things we also heating up as Bernie Sanders brought life and energy to the party. Like Trump, he packed venues with passionate supporters. Sanders finally offered everything I thought this country needed and I was very disappointed when he lost—due in large part to the undemocratic notion of Super Delegates.

The Cleveland Indians surprised the country when, despite several critical injuries, roared to a division title and through the playoffs. After taking a 3-1 lead on America’s team, the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland fans wondered—could we really win two championships in one year?

At the same time, it appeared that Hillary Clinton would be our next president. She was leading comfortably in the polls and Trump was busy embarrassing himself with one scandal after another. What could be better than two Cleveland championship and another Democrat in the White House?

And then everything changed.

I remember looking at the pitching match-ups for the last three games, two of which were in Cleveland, and being concerned. But I thought momentum was on our side—we needed just one win. Anything could happen.

Hillary wasn’t my first choice, but in comparison to Trump, there was no choice. It wasn’t until the Comey letter that I had much concern. Her campaign continued to lack energy, meanwhile each Trump supporter seem to have not one, but several signs in their yards. Trump supporters were digging in, but this country wouldn’t really elect someone like Trump, would we?

It was at this time that I felt the tide changing for both the Indians and Clinton. I remember going to work for a week with an uncomfortable and sinking feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t quite identify why, nothing bad had happened yet, but I could feel it. Trouble was brewing.

The Indians started to falter, eventually losing in extra-innings in game seven. Even though they overcame significant adversity and overachieved, to get that close was heartbreaking—though probably not as heartbreaking it would have been had the Cavaliers not won. And then, less than a week later the unthinkable happened. Whether it was due to decades worth of despise for Clinton, a referendum against intellectualism, racial tensions, misguided fear of terrorism or a rebellion against political correctness, voters in three swing states and by slim margins, decide to overlook dozens of person and professional character flaws and elect Trump.

To make matters worse, the farce continued after the election—with protests, broken promises to Trump supporters even before he takes office, deplorable cabinet choices and a refusal to take serious the conflict of interest his businesses present. Disappointed in the values and morals of this country, I have rarely watched the news since the election. After all, for the sake of ratings, the media created this monster. The future seems ominous and I feel empty inside. Thank goodness for Saturday Night Live.

Although it was not an uninteresting year, 2017 can’t get here fast enough. I can’t accept this “new normal” in our political landscape. We’re better than that and maybe our country will find its way again. And maybe Ohio State will ring the new year with a national championship, the Cavaliers will repeat or the Indians will finally win that World Series. Maybe, just maybe, the Browns will even win a game.

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