Flashback - 10/27/04 - Kenosha Edition
There was a full moon on October 27, 2004. That same night the Boston Red Sox were poised to win their first World Series title in 86 years, up 3-0 on the St. Louis Cardinals. And I was spending my third (or fourth) night in Kenosha, Wisconsin. With a little less than a week to go before the election, I'd been sent there as part of a Get-Out-The-Vote effort. Wisconsin was a swing state, and Kerry needed every electoral vote he could get. I spent the week working the phones from the Wisconsin Education Association office, leaving messages, imploring folks to come on out and volunteer. I even got a hold of about 100 email addresses somehow, and sent blast emails with phrases like, "I know you're tired of this shit" and "go out and get hammered next weekend" peppered throughout.
I'd been a baseball fan my entire life. But I welcomed game 4 more as a distraction. I needed something - please God anything - else to watch on TV. I'd been following the race pretty closely since May, both personally and professionally. By late October, I'd become a junkie for cable news; an addict feigning for the newest poll, the latest math. And personally I was a complete wreck, with a girlfriend on either coast, and my sanity lost somewhere in the middle. I remember hearing Gillian Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio" for the first time in my rental car that week, and feeling as though it came close to summing up what I felt. Going to Kenosha seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive head first into the process and out of my own head space.
In Kenosha, I figured I'd at least have a chance to be active. I could do something. I wouldn't have to sit back in liberal San Francisco and watch it all unfold with the other hippies. I could do my part in a state that could very well have determined the outcome. And while John Kerry didn't necessarily inspire, my hatred of Bush seemed to outweigh all other emotions. The man had wrecked our country in ways that would have never seemed plausible if portrayed on a movie screen. He acted with the careless swagger of a rich boy who never faced a single consequence in his life. He'd stolen the 2000 election, and as penance dragged us remorselessly into an unjust war, with seemingly no end in sight. He had to pay. This was not merely an opportunity to elect John Kerry. This was an opportunity to get rid of that dumb fuck the history books would later refer to as George W. Bush.
And my animosity was no longer reserved for just him, but for all those who supported him. This was no longer an election. It was personal. This was an all-out culture war, and they were winning. Even in Kenosha, with the polls leaning, inching, toward Kerry, there was no way to tell who stood where. Even at the Brat Stop, where I watched the first innings of Game 4, I couldn't predict with any certainty which lever these cheeseheads would pull the following Tuesday.
When the check came it was only the fifth inning, and having a sink full of iced Amstels at the hotel, I decided it best to head back to the room and watch the game from there. Three Amstels and two personal calls later, at a little before midnight, the Boston Red Sox were somehow champions of baseball. I opted out of watching them pour champagne on each other and switched over to Fox News for the latest polls. "Jesus Christ! New Jersey's in play now? Maybe Hawaii too? This is going to throw everything off! And were the Red Sox really champions? Was that part dreamt?" It just didn't add up. Too much information, coming way too fast. Nothing would be the same again. Nothing would ever make sense.