Friday, February 12, 2016

Heartbern: Why Sanders Must Be Stopped

Danville, Kentucky -- It was the summer of 1994. They say that in ballparks around the country, you could smell history being written on the breezy August winds. It was a summer so magical, I did something I thought I'd never do: root for a team from the grungy liberal elitist Pacific Northwest. Ken Griffey Jr., a man more American than hot dogs and pickle relish, was on pace to break Roger Maris' home run record of 61 in a single season. By the time August rolled around, The Kid was nearing 40 dingers, and I was enthralled. I dropped everything, withdrew my life savings, and spent it on a train to Seattle and Mariners tickets. I wanted to see as many Griffey dingers as I could. I wanted to see history be made.

Like many good things in America, collective bargaining ruined it. On August 11th, the players went on strike. Griffey threw away his chance at glory. I threw away my livelihood for a chance to see Griffey throw away his chance at glory. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs in despair, crying into the vast void of the Seattle night sky, like a certain socialist from Vermont once bellowed about U.S. imperialism in front of a congressional chamber more empty than a Jeb Bush rally.

It wasn't just my savings that I threw away that summer. I left my eldest son, Will Hart Jr., when he needed me most. By the time I crawled back to Danville with my tail between my legs, my son had already left for college. I tried calling him via telephone and writing letters, but he never replied. The next time I saw my son, he was a man I no longer recognized. He had a statistics degree and was married to a literature professor at a waspy school in Rhode Island.

Folks, I've been going out on a limb lately. I've tried to redeem myself. I haven't always been the best father to my two sons. I've gotten into altercations with their baseball coaches. My public drunkenness at recruiting dinners cost them both scholarships and the respect of waitresses across the greater-Lexington area. I'm ashamed of that, and I have to live with that. But I was given a second chance recently.

Having not seen my eldest son since a Thanksgiving dinner argument about Mike Leake's ZiPs projections gone terribly wrong, I decided to swallow my pride and reach out to him. I wanted to be a part of his life again.

At first, it was great. Initially, we haggled over where to meet. I suggested Arby's. My son suggested Panera, which I vetoed faster than Obama vetoed the job-creating Keystone pipeline. We finally agreed upon Fazzoli's, a staple of Kentuckian cuisine.

Getting a chance to reacquaint myself with my eldest son over sumptuous linguine and buttery breadsticks was wonderful. So much had changed since we last spoke. Baseball implemented instant replay, McDonald's started to serve breakfast all day, and our worst suspicions about Chipotle were confirmed. I remembered how much I had in common with my son. We agreed to forgive and forget. I apologized for abandoning him in the summer of 1994. I then apologized for being belligerent in my hatred of sabermetrics and vegetarianism.

It was then that my son said something I'll never forgive. Folks, Will Hart Jr. is a Bernie Bro. All that time around his wife from Rhode Island has stunted his cognitive development worse than Common Core ever could.

It was socialism and union thugs like Bernie Sanders that ruined Griffey's chance at glory and the summer of '94. My son didn't know what I knew about Bernie -- and why should he? Whereas your garden-variety Bernie Bro. has only been paying attention to Mr. Sanders since December of 2014, I've been watching his cruel Stalinist experiments in Vermont for many years. While the mayor of Burlington in the 80s, Bernie's crony socialism and corrupt efforts at urban revitalization caused my Cincinnati Reds to create a minor-league affiliate in Vermont, rather than more deserving areas in blue-collar Kentucky. The Cincinnati Reds celebrated American family values and Midwestern grit. The Vermont Reds are a celebration of the Red Menace.

The creation of a minor-league affiliate in my neighborhood would've brought economic resurgence and opportunity to the good people of Danville. But Bernie stole it. Bernie's politics are a perversion of everything Americans hold dear.

I want to like Bernie. I am ready for the first Jewish president, so that the visionary dreams of Seinfeld and Larry David can finally be realized. Bernie's message on free trade resonates with me. He speaks eloquently about the dangers of the job-killing TPP. He recognizes the threat trade deals pose to the economic well-being of rust-belt men like myself. Yet, he won't go far enough. He won't attack Secretary Clinton for emailing on the job. He won't truly attempt to reverse globalization by building a wall.

When I walk into a Buffalo Wild Wings and see no less than twenty six big screen televisions playing all 19 ESPN networks, I see the American Dream realized. When Bernie Sanders walks into a Buffalo Wild Wings and sees no less than twenty six big screen televisions playing all 19 ESPN networks, he sees the corrupting influence of super PACs and Citizens United. When I walk into a 7-11 convenience store and see a kid filling up a 2 gallon jug full of Mountain Dew, I see the beauty of free enterprise and capitalism incarnate. When Bernie does the same, he can think only of taking my hard-earned money to pay for this kid's dental care.

Folks, I walked out of that Fazzoli's and haven't talked to Will Hart Jr. since. The winter of 2016 has been much less magical than the summer of 1994. Griffey never did break the home run record, just like I may never be the loving and supportive father that my son deserved. Hopefully, my son will learn to not put faith in me; I'll only disappoint him. My son has been Berned one too many times.