The date: November 18, 2006
The location: Columbus, OH
The scene: The #1 ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State squared off against their hated rivals from the North, the #2 ranked University of Michigan Wolverines.
After a grueling, emotional, and hard fought contest, the Buckeyes narrowly escaped with a win 42-39. The win clinched the Big Ten Championship for OSU and helped to secure their number one ranking heading into the title game; only to then be destroyed in the national championship against the Florida Gators.
In some instances, the Michigan/Ohio State rival falls eerily in line with the Obama/Clinton feud leading up to Obama’s nomination. If the Obama camp doesn’t play its cards right, they may suffer the same fate as the Buckeyes. Now, I can’t entirely relate the UM/OSU rivalry to political feuds. But there are some glaring similarities:
After watching my beloved Wolverines lose to Ohio State in that heartbreaker, I was initially inclined to root for Florida in the championship. Not only did Michigan miss out get screwed out of the opportunity to meet OSU in a rematch for the title but – given OSU’s status as a sworn enemy – I felt obligated to support the team who wasn’t Ohio State, regardless to who it was. Similarly, after Hillary Clinton supporters watch their champion lose in a closely contested, emotionally-stiring primary election, I got the hint that many supporters swore themselves off the non-Hillary candidate for good. “Anybody but Obama,” they said.
The difference between me and the aforementioned Hillary supporters is brand loyalty.
You see, I was willing to overlook my beloved Wolverines not being in the title game. The way I saw it was simple: even when I thought the referees handed Ohio State the game, they still won. As such, they earned the right to represent the Big Ten Conference and – consequently – earned my support as well. Even if I had to side with the team who uprooted my guys, watching the title come back to the Big Ten was more important than my personal disappointment. Even if my team wasn’t the group who accomplished the feat, I could at least rest in knowing that a team from our conference had the opportunity to get the job done. So when I watched OSU get abused by Florida, I joined the students, staff, faculty, and alumni from OSU in their grief. However, I’m getting the sinking feeling that die-hard Hillary supporters won’t be sharing in our grief should Obama lose. In fact, they will likely be complicit in his defeat.
That’s why I will always maintain that Sen. Obama made a critical mistake by not selecting Hillary as his VEEP. Any chance to salvage most (if not all) of Hill’s supporters was lost the minute that Joe Biden was selected. Above all else, not picking Hillary allowed John McCain to sneak Sarah Palin onto his ticket. Picking Joe Biden was the best early Christmas gift the GOP could ever receive. By my prediction, anywhere between 15-20% of Hillary Clinton’s supporters (roughly 2.5 – 3 million) will abandon Obama and the Democrats this November in favor of the McCain/Palin ticket. Even if McCain doesn’t completely gain that vote himself, that difference will be made up by those who either vote for a third party or who don’t vote at all. Rather than coming together under the Big Ten/Democratic banner, the die hards will watch their enemy crash and burn to the ground and watch it with bitter happiness.
Now before I drink an entire gallon of cyanide and stick my head in the oven, I’m trying to remain confident that Obama can still pull this off even when Hill’s supporters have all but changed channels. In fact, I’m hoping that as Obama is being sworn in as the 44th POTUS, I’ll look back at this post and laugh. But I’d be naive to think that rivalries don’t bring out the worst in people and that Obama is standing in the path of a storm.
The UM/OSU rivalry has made that abduntantly clear.