The Sport of Politics

The Sport of Politics

I’m going to write about politics today, but I’m not going to be political. There’s more than enough out there to read about the all candidates – or whatever you want to call them. Today I’m just talking about the sport of politics.

I think ever since the ’80s I’ve heard politics occasionally referred to as a blood sport. Hell, it’s probably been described as such since the EIGHTEEN-80s. This election cycle, though, makes me laugh a little. Not because of the folly that surrounds people like Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, but because the major media websites are now literally making it look like sports.

I mean, look at CNN’s Election 2016 home page.I’m not trying to sound like an old curmudgeon, but that is ridiculous. Sports-like headshots with the eliminated “teams” greyed out? ESPN is probably jealous.

Did you notice that they now do the National Anthem before debates? And that the candidates are introduced over the PA? I don’t recall this ever happening until this election. It’s sports! Come on. It’s kind of hilarious.

One of my earliest memories is when I was five (almost six) and Jimmy Carter had just been elected president.  We had just moved to Lancaster, MA and maybe had been there for a year or so. It was March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, and Carter made one of his first public speeches since being elected – and it was about a mile from my house, over in Clinton, MA.

Unbelievably, there is no footage at all of this on YouTube.

I don’t remember a word of what was said, though it all appears to be here. I do remember being on someone’s shoulders. Likely my dad. I could have this wrong, too, but I think we were with my aunt and her family, though I may need to confirm that, because other times I think we were with our Lancaster friends the Lloyds.

Since then, each election cycle seems to have gotten more and more ridiculous, with each race an almost shameless sprint toward who can create the most buzz in the media. But I’m not going to bitch about that here today. I’m here to ask a simple question – where does it end?

I’m posting this almost 39 years to the day of Jimmy Carter’s speech in Clinton. Doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or a member of whatever party Vermin Supreme is in, but there’s no denying that elections were not as much of a spectacle back then as they are now.

Which leads me to this question: 39 years from now in 2055 (gulp), I want to seriously know what you think elections will look like. What will all of our kids be witnessing? Do you think it’ll be the same slow, weird burn we’ve seen in the last 20, 30, 40 years? Or do you think it’ll be a drastically different landscape by then?

I’d love to hear some predictions!

The Other Side

The Iowa caucuses are now a month away. Politics……sigh. Despite my huge interest in historical non-fiction and current news events, I generally don’t like talking about politics and usually I can’t put my finger on why. I’d just rather know and focus on a person’s core personality and demeanor before I know anything about their political views.

I don’t ever want political views to cloud my relationship with people because it’s not fair to anyone if they are pre-judged based on those beliefs. The only thing you are allowed to pre-judge people on is their musical taste. OK, I’m kidding. Maybe.

Anyhow, if you’re a repeat visitor on this blog you know that I tend to lean leftward and I don’t put it out there aggressively, nor do I push my beliefs on anyone. I don’t put signs on my lawn and I don’t post on social unless it involves a politician doing something really dumb or funny. Like this:

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One thing I do try, though, is to listen and understand the opposite opinion of the one I have. Which is why I’ve begun reading “The Life,” the new Ronald Reagan book which came out recently. Reagan was the head honcho from 1981 to 1989, a time period where I went from 10 to 18 years of age. Suffice it to say I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back then. It was more like hockey, school, girls and music. As time has passed, though, I’ve learned enough to know he was a polarizing figure, much like any other president.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.46.18 PM

However, in the modern era, he’s the one president that I don’t know all too much about and I need to fix that. I begrudgingly I bought his estate some dinner and purchased the book.

I’m only into the 1950s right now so it’s too early for me to pass any final judgements on him, but I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with the book. I always thought he was an A-list actor, but that’s actually far from the truth. He had a cup of coffee with a single nomination, but never got to the upper echelon for actors.

I also was surprised to learn that his interest in politics hit him much earlier than I thought. His failing to get acting jobs pushed him to be more involved in the union dealings of the off-camera/industrial part of the movie-making business in Hollywood and that’s where his foundation was laid in politics.

I have a good sense of how I am going to feel about Reagan at the end of the book – probably not well. With that said, there is a moral to today’s post – keep an open mind. You will come across great people and good friends in your life who believe the exact opposite of you. Whether it’s personal or professional, you’ll do yourself a heck of a lot of good if you try to gain perspective from the other side. I can’t think of a single time when it hasn’t served me well and opened my mind.

This song, by Tommy Womack, is a killer. Worth a listen and so well-written. Will make you smile.

Election

I’m very proud to be an American today. Not because of who won, but because the U.S. took a major, historic and emotional step forward yesterday in starting to right hundreds of years of horribly embarrassing wrongs. Which isn’t to say that Obama was elected because he’s African-American. It’s that the majority of Americans (myself included) elected him simply because we felt he would do a better job than McCain. Color didn’t matter.

Oh, of course it mattered for some people. Racism is basically the war on drugs or the war on terrorism – it is a stain that no detergent will ever fully clean. But the haters, they are fast becoming the minority – and good riddance. So I look around now and I see a younger generation of people who don’t hate based on sexual orientation and I see a country who is making progress and getting more colorblind. That is history and we are so, so lucky to be living it.

Now, regarding politics, really I think these politicians are all the same. I certainly don’t envy the man who won the race yesterday. He’s got a tough road to hoe. I hope more than anything that his actions back up his eloquence, because his voting record is awfully partisan. I hope his clever “red-state, blue-state, united-states” catch phrase isn’t just a catch phrase. I refuse to get caught up in a candidate because of catch phrases or promises for change. It happens every four years and then the day after the election, everything goes back to the normal B.S. I hope more than anything he succeeds. His victory yesterday, in my eyes, is the most significant in my lifetime thus far and brings something we’ve rarely seen in politics – hope.

Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music? 
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here. 
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget. 
Red: Forget? 
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours. 
Red: What’re you talking about? 
Andy Dufresne: Hope.