The day after a crushing loss at the polls -- a walk through the vegetable garden that you have planted and tended with the wife that you love -- is no tonic whatsoever to the pain and bitterness that ails you.
The flowers on the home-grown potatoes that seemed so bright and colorful the day you snapped this photo appear to be a dull gray. They have no answers for the feelings that are coursing through your mind and body the day after the candidate you worked so hard to elect -- lost.
But then again -- they're not supposed to have answers. They're just flowers on a potato plant. That's what they are. That's all they will ever be. The answers to the questions and pain that lingers after losing a statewide race remain unanswered.
The first feeling that comes to mind is depression. Then come the questions -- followed by feelings of self-doubt. What did I do wrong? Could I have done better? Finally -- comes the inevitable feelings of anger and bitterness. What happened to our base of support?
At some point you begin to realize that you're talking to a tomato plant. But the tomato plant has no answers. It is merely an heirloom tomato plant. Its job in life isn't to answer questions about elections. Its goal is to reproduce through the production of tomatoes and tomato seed.
It cannot tell you the all important answers of who, what, when, why and most importantly: how could this happen?
The depression that comes after losing a statewide -- or even a local race -- is a natural part of the electoral process. It's as natural as the potatoes that are hopefully growing into a large size beneath a canopy of green.
Running an election is much like tending a garden. Results don't happen overnight. Both activities start with the planting of seed. Both activities require care and almost constant attention. They're also similar in that the end of the process yields tangible results.
Sometimes those results are good. Sometimes they are bad. As much as you try to control the process -- the ultimate result is up to a higher power.
If those results are not what you had dreamed -- the inevitable questioning begins. What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? Was this the right move to make at the right time? Is this where I made the fatal mistake? Perhaps it was here?
The garden has no answers.
There are 17-million registered voters in California. Let me state that again: 17-MILLION REGISTERED VOTERS IN CALIFORNIA.
Less than 1.5 million of them chose to cast ballots in the statewide race that really had the most impact on this gardener. This is where the feelings of bitterness and anger begin to seep in -- despite your best attempts to hold them at bay. Where did everyone else go? Where was this "tide of conservatism" that was supposed to show up on election day? Why was it more like a trickle?
How dare they? I have taken their calls by the thousands over the course of the years. I have responded to their requests. I have managed to attend to most -- if not all of their needs. Why then -- when I needed them most -- did they stay home?
I can ask the same question of an heirloom tomato plant that Venus and I have lovingly nurtured through the growing season. We have responded to every request for every mineral fertilizer we know of. We have given it the best soil. It has received daily water -- love and care.
Yet -- it did not produce. Why?
The garden has no answers. The garden has only flowers and a promise of things to come -- or things that may not come.
It is no tonic for the pain on this day.