From the Trail: Election Day Eve

It’s Election Day Eve. If Christmas Eve is a joyous night to settle into the warmth of the holiday season, Election Day Eve is a chaotic mess where campaign staff and candidates freak out over every measurable and voters eagerly await the end of the seemingly endless grind of mailers, billboards, yard signs, and attack ads. So…a bit different.

By now you’ve been emailed a thousand reminders and seen even more posts reminding you that tomorrow is Election Day. And yeah, maybe they are a bit much and over the top, but at the end of the day if they can remind even one more person to vote then they did their job. So here is my version of a call to action/reminder to vote tomorrow. But since we’ve seen the same messaging over and over again, and I am far from a normal politician, lend me your eyes/ears for a minute so I can take you down “Matt’s Niche History Corner”(™ pending).

For those who don’t already know - one of my biggest guilty pleasures is “pro wrasslin’,” and I won’t apologize for that. I’ve been following and watching since I was a kid and it still remains a fixture in my weekly viewing habits. One of the aspects I love about it is the storytelling and history. Wrestling, when done right, calls back and rewards viewers who are familiar with the vast history and interconnecting of webs over the years. And just as someone familiar with history of any sort can tell you - the more educated you are on history, the more you see patterns and threads that remain ever present in modern society. To steal a phrase from Mark Twain; “History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

That brings me to the story of Mikey Whipwreck, and why I find myself thinking about him on the eve of Election Day.

For the sake of background, Mikey Whipwreck was an undersized, inexperienced wrestler who worked in ECW, a smaller, independent company that had its heyday in the 90s.

Mikey started out as part of the ring crew. It was the only job he could get and it allowed him to meet and pick the brains of other wrestlers while paying his dues in the business. Eventually, the management at ECW believed Mikey had earned his keep and gave him the chance to wrestle on their shows. The only thing was - they wanted him to simply be a “jobber,” or the person in wrestling who always loses.

Jobbers are common in pro wrestling. They usually don’t get entrances, they wear generic gear, and their names can change week to week. They are important, however, because they need to both make the winner look good and make sure the winner is elevated through victory. This is their job, and some take it more seriously than others.

Mikey was a great jobber. To the point where fans started remembering him and cheering for him. ECW management noticed this, and started having Mikey hold his own against the other wrestlers. Instead of losing in mere seconds, Mikey would be given minutes to show some offense before he would inevitably lose. Soon after that, Mikey even started winning some of his matches. He officially ditched the “jobber” title and was moving his way up the card.

After some ups and downs, but mostly ups, Mikey beat the odds and won a chance at the World Title. This title meant everything to Mikey. It was what he dreamed of when he signed up and began working on the ring crew. It was what he dreamt of as he jobbed to bigger names. It was what pushed him through all of the injuries, all of the early morning training sessions, and all of the late nights tearing down the ring after a show. All of a sudden, the beloved underdog had his shot at the champion, an established star known as “The Sandman.” I won’t bother explaining his schtick, save to say he was a beer guzzling antihero who loved beating people up with a bamboo cane. The fans loved Sandman, but were behind the underdog Mikey Whipwreck. These fans were the ones who noticed him and cheered him to the point that ECW management had to listen and give him more of a role.

Mikey had his shot - and subsequently lost.

And that could have been the end of Mikey’s story. Wrestling history is full of stories like his. The road to relevance is littered with Mikey Whipwrecks of all shapes and sizes, who were abandoned by fans, management, or the people themselves on the way to the top. Instead, Mikey kept pushing and kept his hard work up. Before you know it, Mikey finally beat Sandman in a non-title match and earned himself another shot at the title, capturing it in a historic win that is still highly regarded and talked about some 25+ years later.

So, what does that have to do with anything?

Well, I think we all know how hard tomorrow can be - not just for myself and my supporters, but for candidates, staff, and supporters around the region, state, and country. There will be some “Mikey”s out there who will overcome their odds and finally get their win. Some “Mikey”s are still putting together the ring. Some are still losing to the bigger names. And some are in their first title shot. Wherever “Matt for Michigan” is in this ride, I want people to know that I am committed to this cause and movement. I will not let this be the end of what we have accomplished. There are plans in motion (after a short break for my own sanity), that I will be able to talk more about as the days go by.

We need, now more than ever, people dedicated to promoting nonpartisan, progressive, working class ideals. We need people on the ground to build bridges so that we can push back against the division trying to work its way through our community. We need to cut through the hate and toxicity being spread by bad actors and help people see just how much we have in common and want much of the same things. I want to be a part of that for Midland, and my urge to see that come to fruition has only been emboldened by all of this.

To Sarah, Molly, and Alaynah, who welcomed me into their ring crew with open arms, thank you.

To Jennifer, Jacob, Claudia, and the rest of the Midland Democratic Party, thank you for letting me be a “jobber” and learn the ropes of our local political scene.

To all of my supporters that have buoyed me in ways they’ll never realize, thank you for helping me reach this title opportunity.

I hope I get the chance to make you proud and wear the belt. But if I don’t, just know that I am committed to seeing this through and not just be another person on the side of the road to relevance in modern politics. Thank you all for being here next to me, and until we get the chance to do it again - please keep the fire going on the fight for our working class.

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