Reflections on Being a Cubs Fan, a Former Republican, and This Year’s Pivotal Halftimes – The Mercury News

The first midterm elections I remember came in the early days of my interest in politics. I became a Republican by the time I became a fan of the Chicago Cubs, at the end of World War II, when we were living in a Chicago suburb. As I eagerly scanned the Tribune for news on the Cubs, I think I must have also absorbed some of the newspaper’s conservative views along the way. So I was thrilled with the Cubs’ victory in the National League flag in 1945 and the Republican takeover of the House and Senate in the 1946 midterm elections. These poignant events became the basis of decades-old loyalties.

In 1945, I was at Wrigley Field for one of the games in the Cubs World Championship lost to the Detroit Tigers. After that, their fortunes declined sharply and for a long time, but my support for the team survived my relocations to the East, and eventually to the West Coast. In 2003, I traveled from Cape Cod to be rewarded with Steve Bartman’s game disaster. By the time the Cubs finally won a pennant in 2016, I was living in California, and my daughter Heather and I had traveled to Chicago for a World Championship game against Cleveland. The Cubs lost the game we saw before going on to win the series – after we got back to California. However, I suspect that I am one of the few who can claim to have attended Cubs matches at two World Championships.

For their part, the Republican success in 1946 was followed by the crushing loss of Thomas Dewey to Harry Truman in 1948. Throughout the following years of political victories and defeats, she remained a Republican and eventually served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. I don’t remember much about the many midterm elections in that period except for one: 1966.

In 1966, I was among a small group that met Richard Nixon at the St. Francis Hotel in New York to witness the results of the midterm elections. Nixon campaigned vigorously for Republican candidates across the country for one reason: He saw the 1966 election as a path to reviving his political career, after losing the presidency in 1960 and governor of California in 1962. My stay at the hotel was not as a member of Nixon’s political team but as a kind of bonus For the work you did in the case that Nixon recently discussed before the Supreme Court. However, I was just as excited as anyone else.

With the proceeds arriving that night in 1966, and Republicans doing well across the country, the Nixon verdict seemed to be justified. Amused by the television news on CBS, Nixon automatically decided to call the show’s host, Walter Cronkite, to take some credit for the Republicans’ success. We watched with pleasure, Cronkite suddenly disappearing, reappearing a few minutes later. When he returned, Cronkite reported to viewers the “bizarre” phone conversation he had just had with the former vice president — and proceeded to give Nixon the credit he sought for Republican gains.

The 1966 midterm elections became a major factor in Nixon’s winning the nomination in 1968 and his election that year. The rest, they say, is history, but whatever one makes of that history, it’s hard to deny that the 1966 midterm elections played a pivotal role in causing history to unravel the way it did.

Will the 2022 midterm elections be equally important? They may be. And I am writing this as someone who, after a lifetime as a Republican, has been a registered Democrat since November 2020. At that point, it became sadly clear to me that despite Trump’s defeat, his toxic grip on the Republican Party remains.

The results of the 2022 midterm elections can be felt in one or more of three ways. First, if Republicans take over one or both houses of Congress, the remaining two years of the Biden administration will likely be a form of political hell: No or no significant legislation will pass, and Republicans will spend their waking hours trying to investigate life. from management.

Second, the results may determine the political future of Donald Trump, who is doing his best to make the election a referendum on the big lie that was truly re-elected in 2020. If that claim is widely dismissed, with the candidates they have defeated if he embraces it, the wound could be fatal. Trump politically.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the fate of “election-denying” Republicans who are candidates for office, such as governor or secretary of state, that they will be in place in 2024 to control or influence voting and certification schedules. These candidates maintained – despite all the evidence – that the 2020 elections had been stolen. It is clear that they intend to restore it, if necessary, to elect Trump or, for that matter, any other Republican. Their potential ability to do so poses the most serious danger to American democracy in the history of our republic. The 2022 elections are a gate that must be firmly closed.

In the meantime, the cubs are going through another very difficult year. Since I’ve been a Californian for several years now, the idea of ​​transferring my loyalty to the Los Angeles Dodgers sometimes intrudes. But this, I think, will be more difficult than the transition from Republican to Democrat.

Douglas Parker was a government official who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. He’s a lifelong Cubs fan.

Send a letter of no more than 400 words to the editor over here or email Letters@chicagotribune.com.

()