Seeing the best in life's challenges

Election Season is NOT the Playoffs – It’s the DRAFT!

on August 31, 2012

This is my attempt to explain why our political process has gotten so crazy and seems so impossible to “fix.”  We are so caught up in the “sport” of politics, that we have forgotten the purpose of elections.

We Americans love our favorite teams.  We root for them, we are loyal and crazy, and we love to shout about all of it!!!  It is great fun!  We love the competition, we love to dress up and dye our hair and have a party and badmouth the other team.  All this is a big part of the culture of sports, and people can get VERY serious about it!  Yay!

It’s easy to carry over this culture into politics.  We align with our favorite team and take it from there.  But, wait a minute…..

The purpose of electing public officials is not so that one team can defeat another team.  It’s not a sport.  The purpose should be to elect the most qualified candidate, the one who will work well with the others, the one who will balance out the team.

Because when it comes to our country and our government, WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM.  That doesn’t mean we are all the same and that there won’t be conflicts that need to be worked out.  It does mean that the ultimate goal is to make the entire team stronger.

We need an offense as well as a defense.  Different perspectives are at the core of the balance of power that is so important to democracy.  You can have the greatest offense in the world, but you won’t win a game without a defense.

When individuals get drafted, they have been noticed for their individual skills, the position they play, how well they work with others on a team, etc.  A team might already have 3 great running backs, so they might not draft that awesome Heisman Trophy winner, instead they might pick the defensive lineman who can replace the guy that got hurt last year.  You get the picture.

We have to realize how falling into the “us against them” team loyalty thing plays into the lap of the party insiders.  All they have to do is convince individuals that they have the best team and that they deserve their loyalty, and BOOM, they have you for life.  You will believe what they say no matter what, you will view the other guys with suspicion no matter what, and nothing will deter you from supporting YOUR TEAM.  See how much is at stake for a party in maintaining your loyalty?

But politics doesn’t have to be an us-against-them team sport.

We had the perfect example of this in Delaware in 2008.  Jack Markell ran for Governor despite the fact that his party (the Democrats) had another candidate in mind.  He ran a positive campaign, and gained the support of Democrats and Republicans.  Many Republicans changed their party affiliation so that they could vote for him in the primary.  Fortunately, Delaware is small (so that people know each other) and doesn’t have its own TV station (so the media influence is minimized).  It’s easier to do what Jack did in Delaware than it would be in other places.  But it was done.  It is possible.

And I think many people forget that Barack Obama was also an outsider that most didn’t take seriously at all at the beginning.  That he ran a campaign outside of the party machine.  No wonder so many hate him – he didn’t play the game like you are supposed to!  Taking the power away from the party insiders is a huge threat and cannot be tolerated!

What can you do, even though you are just one individual?  Don’t participate in the negativity.  Don’t generalize and lump all Democrats or Republicans into a category.  For example, I was a registered Republican for almost 20 years.  I consider myself a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.  I changed my party affiliation after I moved to a community that is mostly Democrat, so I could have a say in the primaries.

Yet, I get labeled a “Liberal” and dismissed by many people who won’t even have a conversation to understand where I’m coming from.  Aren’t we supposed to be thoughtful and free to form our own opinions?

Sorry, it’s just not so simple that you can assign a label to someone, and lump them into “friend” or “foe” categories.  Well, you can, but while you are wasting time with that game, your team is going to fall to pieces.


2 responses to “Election Season is NOT the Playoffs – It’s the DRAFT!

  1. Dan says:

    I think you’ve got it in one. Many American citizens don’t think about issues just their “team”. Like a sport fan many citizens defend ‘their’ team even if it is riddled with obvious corruption and cheating. Gerrymandering, packing the courts, corporate money, voter suppression laws it’s all good as long as the umpire doesn’t call it. And if you can pay off the umpire or even better, the sports commission, Great! Rah Rah Sis Boom Baw! It’s time to stop brain washing people in the team sport motif. It’s obvious that team sports does NOT contribute to good citizenship, no matter what the pundits say. Sure I like sports…like scuba diving, bicycling, hiking, activities that I actually DO. While sitting somewhere I’d rather watch a nature show, or a comedy, not some big bruisers hitting each other for points.

    If you want role models maybe we should look to science rather than sports. Unless you want to admit that Americans are too STUPID to preserve their democracy understanding the current conflicts in Astronomy, Biology, Physics is not that much more difficult than picking the winner of a football pool.

    • jlcmom says:

      Yep. In general, I think most people just never stop to think things through, and see what they are doing. It’s something I try to teach my kids (to think about their actions and choices) so this is something I think about — how to you teach it? You can model it, you can talk about it, but you can’t force people to think about what they are doing. One conclusion is, you can refuse to participate or get sucked into the situations that result. And I guess we can speak up. But lots of people are very comfortable with things as they are.

      So, yeah, I’m still thinking about this. Thanks so much for commenting! It’s nice to know somebody “out there” reads this stuff sometimes!!

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