I went to bed Tuesday night praying for a miracle.

I’ve spent the last year following and occasionally writing about the presidential campaigns. And all year — especially since covering the Democratic National Convention in July when I pretty much resigned myself to four more years of Dubya — I tried not to get my hopes up. I mean, if you can’t manage a simple balloon drop, how are you going to outfox Karl Rove?

When you grow up in Boston, you come to realize that no matter how much you pray that your guy will prevail, he’ll usually find a way to blow it. Until two weeks ago, our Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 86 years. In fact, just about the only reliable thing about the Red Sox was that they would find new and ever more excruciating ways to lose when victory seemed so close, so possible.

But that was our October surprise. This week, still elated — and partially blinded — by an improbable Red Sox win, I allowed myself to contemplate the possibility of a John Kerry presidency. By 8 p.m. on Election Day, I was actually confident of Bush’s ouster. On the basis of preliminary exit polls, the nit-wits on right-wing radio were almost ready to concede. On Fox News, droopy dog Brit Hume seemed so defeated that his face looked as if it was ready to slide completely of his head. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, we know what went wrong. Somehow, Kerry found a new and more excruciating way to lose. The exit polls were wrong. But this time, the election wasn’t stolen — we lost it. Instead of waking up to a miracle, I woke up to endless clouds and a cold hard rain.

But if I’ve learned anything from being a Red Sox fan, it’s this: There’s always next year. Or in this case, there’s always 2008.

So it’s time to stop crying in our lattes. Every cloud, even the towering gray cumulonimbus that is the Bush presidency, must have a silver lining.

Right?

In case you need to be talked down off the ledge — or the next flight to Vancouver — here are a few things that might cheer you up. Maybe.

  • Maybe the Democratic Party will get its act together and realize that Howard Dean was right when he suggested that the Dems need to be the party for guys with “Confederate flags on their pickup trucks.” Ho-Ho took a lot of heat for that comment last year — John Kerry even demanded that he apologize. But Dr. Dean was right. A quick glance at the electoral map is proof enough that, for now at least, Republicans have that Southern white male constituency pretty much wrapped up. And Hillary Clinton probably isn’t the answer to carrying Mississippi.
  • While the Dems are learning valuable lessons, here’s another: George Bush isn’t the only incompetent buffoon who deserves to lose his job. It’s too late for George, but we can still show DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe the door. It’s debatable whether Fahrenheit 9/11 helped John Kerry at all, but it’s clear that establishment Democrats aligning themselves with Michael Moore didn’t play very well in the Heartland.
  • Remember: We still have The Daily Show. When you start to contemplate the fact that there 60 million people in this country who believe — despite four years worth of evidence to the contrary — that George Bush is the right man for the job, it can make you question your sanity. If you can’t afford a therapist and you need someone to tell you you’re not crazy, Jon Stewart is the next best thing. And he’s there for you — daily.
  • Thirty minutes of therapy not enough? Need 24-7 confirmation that you are not alone? Mercifully, we now have Air America, nit-wit radio for lefties. With four more years of lies, distortions, and disgraceful mangling of the English language, Al Franken will have plenty of fresh material.
  • On a more selfish and more satisfying note, we may have finally seen the last of Ben Affleck, self-appointed spokesman for both the Democratic Party and Red Sox Nation. Following a string of 53 awful movies in a row, and with J Lo out of the picture, maybe — just maybe — Baffleck will slink back into obscurity where he belongs.

    For those who are truly desperate, those for whom no baseball analogy is a comfort, those who believe that 2008 is way, way, way too far away, there is one last consolation: While everyone was trying to figure out which of his three Purple Hearts John Kerry actually deserved, George W. Bush let the assault weapons ban lapse. So when they start shutting down the libraries and museums, you’ll be well armed for secession.

    In The Fray is a nonprofit staffed by volunteers. If you liked this piece, could you please donate $10?