And Now We Wait

As long as it takes

Image: Josh Thompson

A week ago, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. They did so spectacularly, with the ghost of E.B. White looming: “Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth,” he’d written, during a summer when the best thing that the Cubs had going was probably the name of their outfielder, Peanuts Lowrey. Lots of us were thinking about democracy, as the hours passed, about how the grueling game, at the end of a miserable streak, mirrored the election. After a restorative seventeen-minute rain delay — a rebirth — the guys did it, finally. It’s been so long, everyone said, hugging each other — they’ve won and now we can go to sleep.

It’s been more than 108 years that women have been waiting, and we’re exhausted. In 1908, the Cubs were flying high — their second World Championship victory in a row — while women in Illinois had yet to vote once. Today in New York, there’s a line of people winding through the entirety of Mt. Hope Cemetery, to place “I Voted” stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave. But they’re all still waiting on the outcome.

Waiting is supposed to be a particular American phenomenon. Donald Trump cut a two-hour line at PS 59 in Midtown Manhattan to vote for himself, presumably because exceptionalism is also supposed to be a particular American phenomenon. Waiting and watching is becoming less and less comfortable for us, with diversions always at hand, or in the Netflix queue, and on this national day of waiting, I am at a loss. I scan the numbers: 48.5 is the percentage of the popular vote that Nate Silver thinks Hillary Clinton will receive; three years is the time since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act; 100 years since Jeannette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives; 1 is the percent by which Trump trails in North Carolina, according to the New York Times. What is there left to do, but toggle from one tab to another? Election day is idle time with stakes. Someone should really put a baseball game on, to tide us over. And where’s that Gilmore Girls reunion?

There was a short line where I voted, a couple blocks away from Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, in Brooklyn Heights, and I was cut in front by a man. But I didn’t care. Many people have been waiting longer than me, and we will all wait as long as this takes, because democracy, we learned earlier this week, sometimes takes an extra inning. Then we will try to get some sleep in our big, patient country.