Sunday, October 23, 2016

Teddy, Truman, Cubs & Indians

            All right, enough about this year’s presidential election. It’s getting too stressful, and we’ve all surely made up our minds by now. It’s time to focus on two other election years, and on two previous presidents.
            Let’s talk about Teddy and Truman. Let’s discuss 1908 and 1948.
            Here’s why: On Tuesday night in Cleveland, this year’s World Series will begin, and the two teams playing will be the two who have gone the longest since winning their last titles. The Cleveland Indians have not won a championship since ‘48, when the first Baby Boomers were in diapers and World War II had just ended. And the Chicago Cubs have not claimed a title since ’08, when the first Model T was coming off the assembly line and one of our Mount Rushmore presidents was deciding not to run for re-election.
            The Indians and Cubs have endured some of the most depressing strings of losing seasons in professional sports history in the many decades since they last held a title trophy aloft. Their fans have continued showing up, though, holding out hope every April and cheering them on through excruciating September and October collapses.
            But here they are, and it’s clear that one of them will end their losing streak over the next 10 days. And as they engage in this year’s Fall Classic, the Cubs and Indians will bring back memories of the men who occupied the Oval Office when these teams last stood atop the baseball world.
            Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman both started as vice presidents, and both stepped in after the elected president died in office less than a year into a four-year term. Roosevelt’s focus on taming corrupt robber barons and using executive powers to enhance programs such as conservation made him an American hero, leading to his re-election in 1904. In ’08, Teddy decided against running again, and promoted his friend and cabinet member William Howard Taft, who was elected a month after the Cubs won their second consecutive World Series. 
             As for Truman, he took office in a tumultuous time, and found a way to help steer the U.S. through the end of World War II and into the United Nations. After almost four years, it seemed that the American people were going to vote against Truman for re-election and favor Republican Thomas Dewey. In fact, the Chicago Daily Tribune even printed a headline reading “Dewey Defeats Truman.” But this time, the news media and pollsters really did get it wrong, and Truman was re-elected to another four-year term. A month later, the Indians claimed their second title.
            History has painted Teddy and Truman as two of the 20th century’s strongest American presidents, and they are widely respected for their determination and frank talk. As I review some of their most famous quotes in the fabulous collection found on goodreads.com, I see words that inspire on multiple levels. First of all, as with any great line, they can inspire an individual in need of hope. Secondly, they provide much-needed perspective for a nation searching for its next leader. And finally, they give long-suffering baseball teams – and fans – words to live by. Let’s give a listen.

Teddy
-          “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” 
-          “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” 
-          “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” 
-          “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

Truman
-          “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” 
-          “The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.”
-           “We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are.” 
-          “Believe and you’re halfway there.”

The World Series games will be played this week, and one group of fans will cry tears of joy. The election will be held on Nov. 8, and we the people will select a new leader. After that, life will go on for us all. Whether the signs on our lawns or the jerseys on our backs reflect the winner, we will have our own victories to pursue. Circumstances will arise in which we’ll need to decide whether we want to step “in the arena,” and whether we are ready to “believe” – in ourselves, in a cause, or in that which we can anticipate but can’t yet see.
            I guess what Teddy and Truman were really trying to tell us is that if you can sense a reason to hope, and you can feel the courage of your convictions, then you need to go for it. “The only man who never makes mistakes,” Teddy once said, “is the man who never does anything.” These former leaders would tell us to make sure we take the initiative, and don’t let the words and actions of others guide our own self-direction.
           Go Cubs go, for sure. Go Indians, absolutely. I’m with her, of course. But more importantly, go Warren. Go all of us. We can get through this together. As another American president once said, yes we can.

1 comment:

Karen Ann said...

I'm horrified by this election, and yes indeed, I'm with her. Indeed, this Nasty Woman is voting BIGLY, and it won't be for the Bad HOmbre.

*sigh