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Changing the home team strategy

November 28, 2014

As the character Frank Skeffington observed in Edwin O’Connor’s 1956 novel, “The Last Hurrah“, politics is a great spectator sport.

We like to watch games, and whether it’s a movie with that word in the title or a sport, we often pay a high price to do so.

Unlike movies, baseball, football or horse racing, the game of politics has real-world consequences for the country.

Leaving aside die-hard fans whose entire year can be ruined if their team loses a pivotal game, one home run more or less isn’t going to change the American landscape. A few losing seasons can doom whole franchises.

It may be entertaining to watch the somewhat less than graceful gyrations of politicians striving to hold on for just one more inning. In fact, it’s often hard to distinguish between entertainment careers and political careers.

For some reason, Senator Charles Schumer’s  (D-NY) sudden revelation that focusing on Obamacare was a bad political move reminds one of the three dancing hippos in Disney’s “Fantasia”. Cute but clumsy.

Of course, Senator Schumer didn’t couch his remarks that way.  As a classic big government, party-machine Democrat, he feigned concern for its deleterious effect on the middle class.

All it took for this politician to notice that slight oversight made when he voted for the legislation was the reality that it’s past time to place his bet on a new horse.

Oh, and an election that seemed to point out that the rest of the country wasn’t buying the Obamacare storyline anymore.

We have more than fifty years of social experimentation to evaluate to determine what works and what doesn’t. Like baseball stats, we can count the home runs, at bats, RBI’s and win-lose percentages and dissect the reason for a team’s success at any given moment.

Unfortunately, the average American doesn’t go to a ticket sales outlet or a stats page to participate in life.

If they did, they might demand a refund if it was apparent the home team advantage was skewing the game. No one likes watching a 6-0 game.

Granted, we need some framework for our representative democracy to function within. The multi-party system exists because we exist. Dictatorships don’t have teams.

American voters take a long time to react as a unified group. On November 4, 2014, they seemed to be taking a seventh-inning stretch.

Whether they sit back down and watch the rest of the game, head for the exits or flood onto the field remains to be seen.

Professional sport franchises exist because the fans get something out of watching them. If no one buys tickets, POOF!  No more sports franchises, and the players might have to get the same jobs the rest of us want and need.

Watching politicians trying to manipulate the stats isn’t as entertaining as seeing a home run, and it’s doubtful those tickets will continue to sell.

From → op-ed

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