My father was a lifelong and long-suffering Red Sox fan, born too late for Babe Ruth and gone too soon for Big Papi.

Here’s hoping that in the great beyond he shares my enjoyment of four World Series championships and takes this year’s flop better than he did in 1999.

By now, you might be wondering what that affable opening has to do with the ominous headline above.

The answer offers a surprising lesson I should have learned some 15 years ago when fans at Fenway Park began chanting, “Yankees suck!”

At first, I thought it one-time idiocy, maybe a passing fad, surely something that any self-respecting sports franchise would nip in the bud.

Not so, and don’t you know it continues to this day when Red Sox fans outnumber hometown fans in Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, as far away as Denver and San Diego, and even Chicago’s south side.

As I told a student wearing the T-shirt — in private, after class — it “says nothing about the Yankees, but says something about you. And it’s not flattering.”

A wise guy who related quite well to me and vice versa, he laughed as he walked away, chiding me for being a Yankees fan.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my introduction to what might be called “Either/Orism.”

Today, we decry it as “polarization,” a word that, while true, misses process by focusing on result.

Regarding the 2020 elections, Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute warns that the Russian trolls’ process is already up and running to “secure the base … and divide the opposition.”

Yes, they are polarizing one of the poles.

That led me to question fellow members of “Berniecrats” about their declarations of “Bernie or Bust” and resolutions to write him in if he does not gain the Democratic nomination.

Make that former fellow Berniecrats, although Sanders still gets my primary vote.

Sanders has the most complete vision since FDR for bringing the middle class back into economic successes increasingly reserved for the rich these past 40 years.

Projecting that vision abroad makes Sanders the best bet against totalitarian leaders who have thrived on having one in the White House.

Elizabeth Warren with detailed plans, including Jay Inslee’s environmental proposals, comes close. Andrew Yang’s plan to counter the influence of corporate money with “Democracy Dollars” may be the most visionary and incisive idea aimed at reconciling self-governance with free markets laid out since 1932, maybe since 1789.

Others have ideas that shine, and all are free of a handicap that will sink Sanders as soon as the primaries begin, if it hasn’t already:

A base of supporters who have nothing but ridicule and contempt for the other candidates, save Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. Can you name any other of the 20+ candidates whose supporters vilify the others?

On social media it is so bad you’d think Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are reincarnations of Archie Bunker and Alfred E. Neuman.

Could Trump have plagiarized that last insult? As Watts warns, the Russians have Americans doing their “hard work for them.”

Naively thinking I might reason with Berniecrats, I posted a question:

“Would you be willing to go before a group in Flint, Michigan, or Parkland, Florida, and say that there’s no difference between the two parties?”

Two days, 140 responses and 12 shares later, I was just thankful that most of the answers were a single, punctuated word: “Yes!”

Only three answers mentioned the Republican run-government-like-a-business water crisis that still poisons the people of Flint, and just one mentioned the Republican thoughts-and-prayers answer to gun violence.

Might as well have tried to reason with Sox fans chanting “Yankees suck,” and — as with those fans — I am stuck with the embarrassment of having anything in common with them.

My father surely never heard any such chant aimed at DiMaggio, Berra or Mantle, but today’s Berniecrats would remind him of those — including his 17-year-old namesake — who saw no difference between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in 1968.

As he tried to tell me then, and as he occasionally reminded me to the end of the 20th century: When belief is either/or, thought is neither/nor.

John Francis Garvey Sr. passed away at Anna Jacques at 79 on the day the Red Sox were eliminated from the 1999 playoffs. Junior is still kicking at hammlynn@gmail.com.

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