The Secret of Barack Obama's Appeal

Right after the Mets collapsed down the stretch, I was watching ESPN throw it around to various baseball personalities who were explaining how sad and pathetic their swoon was (these same people, had the Mets won one more game, would be referring to the Mets as "resilient" and "gritty"). I can't remember which particularly blase personality was explaining that the Mets collapse was shameful and embarrassing, but he said something that stuck out to me.

Bland-o was saying that the Mets had to make changes, any changes, just because their fans needed to believe that this team could win next year, just because "change means hope." And suddenly Obama's appeal became clear to me.

I remembered growing up as a Sox fan and that complete sense of desperation that slowly crept over you each year as the team would flame out each September. The Yankees lead would be at two games, then three, then five, then seven, and the Indians would start to run away with the wildcard. And suddenly the season would be over, and there'd be that silence, that sad deadness that follows a season when you realize that despite all the time you'd spent convincing yourself that your team had what it took, deep down you always knew that they just weren't quite good enough to make it.

But then there'd be the postseason, and you'd start to believe again. The Sox would send a few prospects away for a talented-but-underachieving second baseman, and Nomar would start talking about how his wrist felt much stronger and he felt his power would be better this year, and all of a sudden no one could stop talking about how the big change was adding Dante Bichette or Shea Hillenbrand or Carl Everett or Reggie Jefferson or whoever our vain hope for that year was. It buoyed you, it brought the life back to talking about your team to friends and cashiers and homeless men on the street (don't ask). We'd believe, once again, that we'd made it over the edge, that we were deserving, that we were contenders, champions, that we had the trappings of greatness.

I think that's why it's so easy to believe in Obama. Nothing he's saying is anything new, it's all the same lines we've always heard. We see that he's clearly a politician through and through, he's strongly Democratic and almost never breaks with his party, he's just a less-experienced version of everything we've seen before, but... there's that newness to him. That sense of excitement. That feeling, creeping over you as you hear talk about him in coffee shop and in line at the supermarket: hey, this might be our year. This might be the time that everything changes. He's gonna be the guy who pushes us over the edge, pushes us to where we've always belonged. Pushes us to greatness. Believe it.

We know that it's probably not true, almost certainly not true, and we're fools for even thinking it. But we just want so badly to believe it, just for the sake of having hope again. We'd rather be fools blindly clinging to hope than doubters scoffing on the edges, we all would. And that's why we choose to believe in Obama.