Politics Is Not A Team Sport


Image credit: DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

By Robert Siegfried
The Redskins are going to win big next game, they just had a bad week. -Anonymous Family Member, Every Single Week
It’s amazing how willing people are to lie to themselves or believe obvious lies others tell them when it supports their favorite team. The fact of the matter is, this year the Redskins are an absolute disaster and deserve to lose, if for no other reason than to learn from it and do better next year. The nice thing about football is that teams generally don’t win unless they go out there and earn it. They can have ten times as many fans as the other team, but if they suck they aren’t going to win the game. The same cannot be said of politics.
While a blindly cheering mob has no effect on the outcome of a sports game, it absolutely has an effect on the outcome of elections
 Lately, politics has become America’s new national sport. The first Democrat Debate earlier this year drew 15.3 million viewers, compared to the average of this year’s long awaited Nationals v. Astros World Series, which drew an average of just under 14 million viewers a night.

Like sports, it seems there’s far too many people on both sides who support their chosen favorite team even when they deserve to lose. But while a blindly cheering mob has no effect on the outcome of a sports game, it absolutely has an effect on the outcome of elections. While 15.3 million sounds like a lot of people paying attention, that is less than 10% of the population registered to vote. That means less than 10% of the voting public actually listened to everything, good or bad, that the Democrat presidential candidates had to say.
Politics has become America’s new national sport, and that's not a good thing
This past Tuesday there was an election in Virginia, and I overheard a conversation between a voter and an employee of one of the two major political parties, who was handing out sample ballots. A man walked up and asked “Can I get one of those? I need to know who I’m supposed to vote for." He may as well have asked “Show me what color jerseys they’re wearing, so I can give them an unprecedented amount of control over my daily life."

A shocking number of people vote this way, as if elections don’t have consequences. These politicians are the people who write your tax codes, the people who write the laws you’ll have to follow, and in the most extreme cases, want to change which of your unalienable rights the government will continue to recognize. Why would anyone give such power to a stranger without even taking the time to see what kind of person they are?
Like sports, it seems there’s far too many people on both sides who support their chosen favorite political party even when they deserve to lose
This is what blind party obedience got my home state, Virginia:


But as easy as it would be to pretend this is just a Democrat Party issue, it is not. This is a problem everywhere: low-information voters outnumber the informed population. It turns elections into popularity contests, where making loud and often wrong statements is a smarter move than publicly embracing policies to enact when in office.
Many voters see themselves as the fans cheering on their respective sides of a sports field, when in reality, they are the referees
The problem, in essence, is that many voters see themselves as the fans cheering on their respective sides of a sports field, when in reality, they are the referees. With the right to vote comes a responsibility to know who and what you’re voting for, because sometimes supporting your favorite team is also making the wrong call.

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