My Political Paradox

“The problem is politics is made a sport…Too often are we rooting for the pride of a team rather than the good of the nation.”

― Criss Jami

I was watching C-Span (the Congressional TV network) yesterday as the House’s Intelligence committee quizzed the FBI Director and the director of the National Intelligence Agency about the Russian’s multifaceted involvement in our last election (to aid in Trump’s election chances by discrediting his opponent, Clinton) as revealed by leaks in those agencies to the national press. Committee members, both Democratic and Republican, to a person, expressed their dismay that the Russians would do so. (Forget for the moment that we’ve done the same to others ourselves.) But the questioning quickly took a turn along partisan lines. 

The D’s wanted to know more about any possible connection to Russian oligarchs, government agents, and Putin, himself, with the exposed financial and other ties Trump and his cohort had (has) with Russia, Putin, etal (yes, the FBI is conducting an investigation into that). The R’s attempted to minimize that and were more concerned about what is being done to uncover who were the traitors who leaked to the press about the Russian involvement.

It was as if I was watching a sporting event, each “team” trying to score points while defending their team’s position. And I got to thinking about politics, and the two major political parties, in general. 

I play (or have played) sports, both of the individual kind, like golf where how well or badly I play and score has no effect on those on the course with me, and the team variety, like crew where each oar has to be in perfect synchronization with his teammates to enable the shell to move through the water as if it was being rowed by one person.

There is some comparison of these two sports to politics: conservatives believe, like golf, that everything is about the individual and it’s of no concern of theirs if another isn’t doing as well as they are, whereas like crew, liberals believe everybody has to work together and how well everyone is doing is critical to the success of all.

While a nation is comprised of individuals, it can’t succeeded if everyone just does their own thing without regard for anyone else, nor will it if everyone is expected to conform totally without regard to individual differences. The conservative mantra is the individual right to be free of governmental restrictions on their life and activities, and the liberal mantra is the right of the whole to restrict the individual for the good of the many.

We’ve made governance into a team sport where we’ve all chosen our respective team to root for and our aim is for our team to defeat the opposite team. Unfortunately, regardless of which team wins an election, it’s a loss to the wants and needs for half of the nation.

There needs to be balance between the two extremes where it can be something of a win-win for everyone, a compromise (which seems to be a dirty word these days; if you’re for compromise everyone sees you as an enemy to their team.)

And that’s my paradox, how can my vote effect compromise when I can only vote for one extreme or the other?

I understand politics, and I accept the need to appeal to certain demographics to get elected. But, why, once in office, why can’t our elected officials put aside partianship until the next election cycle and be statesmen who govern in the common and best interests of the nation, of the citizenry as a whole? Why treat everything as if it was a win-loss game?

Stupid game.

My favorite sports team is the Washington Redskins (hey, I was born there!) I root for them to win. But I’m the first to critize them when their owner or coaches do something stupid that causes them harm. Why shouldn’t I get angry? So why shouldn’t I get angry when my government officials do something that harms people?

Of course, I’d never know if it wasn’t for the whistle-blowers who leak what’s going on.

God bless them.

– Bill

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