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Tangney: Clinton’s loss is like losing the Super Bowl at the goal line

I’m still numb.

Donald Trump’s election was so swift and so stunning that the enormity of what happened hasn’t sunk in. My wife and I expected to be toasting with champagne last night but we opted to quickly swig down some Bailey’s instead. I feel exactly like I did when Russell Wilson threw that goal line interception to lose the Super Bowl. Such high hopes, such promise, so much expectation – gone in a split second.

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I’m still overwhelmed with the newness of it. It’s exhilarating and in an awful, what-the-hell just happened way. I haven’t even begun to process it emotionally – since I still can’t get over that it actually happened. And I’m not the only one. Even Chris Wallace, at the end of the night, exclaimed that he still couldn’t quite believe it – that Donald Trump was actually president-elect. And that’s Fox News!

Very early in the evening, with hardly any of the states even called, I saw James Carville say he, of course, was worried about Florida, but Virginia looked very problematic, too. He said if Clinton lost Virginia, the race was over. It was at that moment that the  prospect of a loss reared its head for the very first time. And that fear and low-level nausea never went away for me. The Senate was not breaking our way and it seemed like every blue state was in play. And Nate Silver’s odds on a Hillary win continued to collapse throughout the night.

It’s stunning to me that Trump did everything wrong, judged by conventional standards – lousy convention, weak debates, no ground game, spewing insults right and left, even attacking his own party – and yet he won anyway. (My only solace is that it looks like Hillary will win the popular vote.)

It’s not like I was overly confident. I’m always a nervous fan, whether it’s sports and politics. (I even saw the Cubs’ come-from-behind World Series win as a possible precursor to a Trump victory.) I suspect this loss will take a long time for me to get over.

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After the shock of a Trump win wore off a bit, the political devastation started to register with me, one “horror” at a time.  Oh no, the GOP runs the White House AND the Senate AND the House; Oh no, the Supreme Court; Oh no, Obamacare; Oh no, the wall, NATO, the Iran deal, immigration reform, racial and religious minorities …. The final insult? It suddenly occurred to my wife that she might not see a woman president in her lifetime.

After Super Bowl XLIX, Pete Carroll said that the heartbreaking loss didn’t really hit him until a few days later, when he suddenly bolt upright in bed at 3 a.m. That was the only time he said he gave way to his emotions. And after that, he was ready to move on.

That transition has yet to happen for me.

I feel bad for our country but I also realize our country doesn’t share those feelings. In a recent article about election anxiety, a hopeful suggestion was made: maybe the other guy won’t be as bad as we fear. Here’s to hope.

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