September 28th: That’s Debatable

If you had not watched the debate and exclusively looked at my Twitter feed, you would have thought that Hillary Clinton delivered the knockout punch to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Depending on what news source you choose to follow, you might find something very different.

In all reality, an objective viewer is likely to say very little changed from Monday to Tuesday. Clinton was exactly as prepared and calculated (perhaps overly so), and willing to expose Trump’s character flaws as we would have expected. Trump continued to be as brash and braggadocios (yes, it is, in fact, a word) as he has always been, marginalizing some and endearing to others. On the whole, voters got to see very little that they had not known hours before.

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Perhaps a few Clinton supporters feel more confident in their candidate. Perhaps the political ideologues feel a little better knowing that their candidate will stick to certain statements and adhere to party lines. Perhaps even a few undecideds were able to come to terms with their voting reality. But, on the whole, it would be hard to say that Monday night moved the needle much at all in one direction or another.

The sad reality we face was displayed in the split-screen image that filled our TVs. We were able to see these two individuals next to one another, to compare their speech and their reactions. In this way, it was abundantly clear that we are comparing two dramatically different characters. One a career politician, taking up a role she has spent years training for, and another who continually proves himself to be impulsive and volatile. It is an embarrassment to our political system and a mockery to the ideologies that divide our nation.

Our country is deeply and troublingly divided on big conceptual issues and how to solve them. In an election year, we have the chance to discuss and debate, to hear from potential leaders and choose a future we can believe in. Unfortunately, we do not have two options of legitimate governmental direction. We created a situation in which a man with nothing but money and hot air has been selected as the leader of a party once known for its traditional adherence to values and history, now known as a circus. In a year where we so desperately need to discuss the political reality of our country, we find ourselves incapable of having a legitimate conversation.

A debate is only valid when two legitimate parties agree to discuss particular issues. While Clinton showed up to play ball, she opposed a man with no legitimacy to back himself up. What resulted was a sad version of two people engaging in very different discussions from one another. What should have served as a moment of high-level discussion and policy argumentation devolved into a mockery of a country in desperate need for change.

This election will show far too many people who are voting far more because they hate the other person, rather than that they feel strongly in support of their candidate. That is a sad reality, but one we have to come to terms with. As a result, Americans will have to continually fight for their voices to be heard. It won’t be enough to wait another 4 years until we can take another crack at this elections craziness. We must be willing to work hard to work with whichever of these two individuals find themselves in the oval office. Monday night made it abundantly clear that we have an awful lot of work to do.

September 26th: Gone Too Soon

The number “1992” bothered me profoundly. Learning of the death of a baseball star was incredibly sad. But the fact that this young man was born during the same year as I was terribly disturbing.

We went to bed on Saturday night at a time when baseball was exciting, full of promise and fun. Sunday morning muted that happiness, snuffing out the chase for the playoffs with the death of a beloved player, a cherished human being.

fernandez24-year-olds are not supposed to die. He was supposed to pitch today. He was supposed to be a perennial all-star, maybe even a Hall of Famer. He was supposed to share his talent with fans of the game for years to come. Instead, we are left with shock, with the devastating reality that his life has run it’s course.

I have never met Jose Fernandez. To me, he was a baseball player, a statistic, an asset to his ballclub. He was, in many ways a character in baseball’s drama. With the way we critique and judge our sports stars, it would be so easy to forget that he was a real person, a friend, a husband. Bringing his humanity to life only after his death feels somehow perverse, a failure to fully appreciate him enough while he provided us with entertainment and excitement.

As the baseball world begins to memorialize their fraternity brother, the joy he brought to the game was impossible to ignore. He had just enthusiasm for life, a way of bringing a smile to everything he did. He made it fun to watch him play baseball, and made it so abundantly clear that he loved to play the game.

To memorialize him yesterday, many clubs made Fernandez jerseys with his name and number 16 in their own colors. The Cubs were one of those teams, hanging a 16 Cubs Fernandez jersey. There had been discussions about Chicago looking into trading for him during the coming offseason, an idea that I, as a fan, had gotten excited about. I would have loved to have seen Fernandez’s name written in Cubby blue. I certainly didn’t want to see it like that.

May his memory be forever a blessing to all who knew him, all who loved him, and all who shared a love for his game.