When Is This Nightmare Going To Be Over?

When Is This Nightmare Going To Be Over?

On November 8, 2016, I settled into an election night victory party in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. The first bit of bad news came over the TV early: Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Evan Bayh lost. Wizened political operative Keith Lesnick flashed a guttural look, “That’s bad.” 

Fourteen hours later, fellow campaign volunteer Susan Keegan and I drove home to Chicago. We had no victory, no trophy, no good news. What we did have was despair, hopelessness.

Years before, in April 1992, I returned from a grueling 90-hours a week job in the Bill Clinton primary campaign. A psychiatrist treated me as if I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Within a few weeks, Hillary Clinton came to Chicago to speak at a women’s forum. I stood alone in the back of the room, away from the crowd. Someone came to me and said Hillary wanted to see me backstage. She greeted me with a teary hug, said she was sorry I left the campaign, asked if I would consider working at the Democratic Convention in August. I told her I was too tired, that I wouldn’t survive. She understood, thanked me for all I did to get the campaign off the ground and assured me her door was always open. We parted as friends, equals really. When I later worked in the Clinton Administration, I saw her many times. My admiration for her superior intellect increased, always undergirded by her unscripted and genuine kindness toward me. 

I felt a thousand little cuts during the 2016 campaign, watching her withstand the cruelest name-calling and ugly attacks not only by her opponent but by my own friends. For months after the election I felt like she died, like I died, like the country died.

At the end of that bleak November, I looked out over out my MacBook Air, watched three crows bounce from bare tree limbs to the ground and back—caw, caw, cawing at each other about their Thanksgiving dinner. I believed they knew me, saw me looking at them. They restored me, enlarged my soul, allowed gratitude to seep in, grateful for them if nothing else. I wondered for the millionth time since election day what Hillary was doing.

All of a sudden, something popped up in the corner of my screen: “White House forced to reverse course on Trump’s golfing.” I instantly broke off communing with my wild pets and opened the link to this urgent story. I don’t dislike golf, but I’m not interested either.  th-3  th-4Unknownmsnbc-logo_0  However, I had involuntarily begun to relinquish my time to so-called breaking news. I clicked. The next thing I knew a little box appeared with a photo of a pair of shoes I coveted. Hmmm, I wondered if those were on sale. I clicked. As I lifted out of my chair to take a break, I saw two pop-ups I had to read first:  “Is a ‘deep state’ subverting the presidency?” and “Bald Eagle Population Booming In Chicago.”  

It’s two years later and this compulsion, this savage addiction is my sentence for seizing the fantasy that something is going to happen to reverse the outcome of the election.

Any day now.

On Winning: The Cubs and Cleveland

On Winning: The Cubs and Cleveland

Susan Keegan and I hopped in her shiny new red Cadillac Crossover in Chicago and booked out of town to Ohio.

Our mission:  canvass voters for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Ohio was a battleground state where we had friends to accommodate us for the five days leading up img_1041
to election day. Our canvassing territory was Ohio City, a quaint restored section of Cleveland. Thirty-eight hours before we left town the Chicago Cubs won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The final game had taken place in Cleveland, and conscious of the seriousness of our mission to win over Cleveland voters, we vowed to keep our Cubs hats at home. I even told someone I was from Toledo to curb anticipated antagonism.

We met old and new friends  – Keith from Sonoma, Carol from Washington DC, Jamie from Oakland, Dennis from Virginia and even Vivienne who flew in from Ireland for the effort to nail the Trump coffin shut in a small patch of the American body politic.

News from my iPhone said Chicago’s parade for the Cubs win would be held the next day beginning at Wrigley Field, rolling down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, right past my condo building. “Oh Noooo,” I groaned in the car, “I’m going to miss it.” “Do you want to go back?” Sox fan Susan asked half-jokingly. No, we were off to do God’s work. No turning back.

I texted my 19-year old grandson, C.J, and told him to go to my place to watch the parade. He’d already been planning to bring his brother, 10-year-old John into town from their suburban home to spend the night and get a good position on the parade route. “Thanks for letting us stay,” C.J. texted, “John borrowed your Cubs hat – I hope you don’t mind.”

By the time Susan and I arrived at Cathy and Marc Dann’s vintage Tudor outside Cleveland we were exhausted from talking the entire seven-hour drive about Hillary’s winning campaign. All the polls said she was going to win. The betting community said she was going to win. Astrologers said she was going to win. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, the incumbent party won. Since Hillary was the incumbent party’s candidate, we took that as one more sign  we were about to have our first woman president. Women were prohibited from voting for twelve more years after the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. Women had won the pennant in 2016. This election was our World Series.

From my third floor balcony, C.J. and John each took iPhotos and videos of the Chicago Cubs open air buses with the players, their img_4826families, friends, team managers, coaches and owners as they crept down Lake Shore Drive onto Michigan Avenue. Cubs first baseman and cancer-survivor Anthony Rizzo lifted the trophy above his head as fans shouted, “We Never Quit.”

Fourteen hours after the polls closed in Ohio, Susan and I drove home. We had no trophy, no win. But we vowed, like the Cubs, to never quit.