It’s 0-0

It’s 0-0. We lose.

There was a thought-provoking letter to the editor a while back challenging a recent editorial. The writer asked how the Democrats could be accused of being obstructionists when the Republicans have majorities in both houses and could pass any legislation they wanted to. Good question.

Thing is, the question presupposes these opposing parties want to win.

I know what you’re thinking. These people fight, lie, cheat, steal, and spend billions so they can get elected and be in power, why wouldn’t they want to run rough-shod over the defeated opponents?

Here’s what I’m thinking: Suppose you were a professional athlete. Let’s say a football player. And suppose the secret deal among all the teams was that you could play as long as you wanted to, for your whole life, even, as long as no one scored. You’d be paid a tremendous salary. You’d have top-of-the-line benefits. This will last the rest of your life and upon your death, the benefits would continue for your surviving spouse. And all you have to do is be sure no one, no one on either side, ever scored a point. You’d have it made, wouldn’t you?

Oh you’d go out and run up and down the field, sack the quarterback, make spectacular throws and catches… You’d have fans who would come to see you play. The crowds would roar. There’d be lots of action and all kinds of related deals, kick-backs, endorsements…. But if a single point was scored, it would all end for you. What would you do? What would be the point of “winning”?

I think that’s what national politics has become. Success has no value, but failure, or, put another way, the status quo, does. Heaven forbid there be compromise, even within one party. That would be viewed as a weakness and a backing away from the polarized position from which one can safely make lots of noise. And they can be sure the other side will keep their back against the wall and fight on.

Politicians justify their existence and get re-elected not because they do something positive, but just by playing defense and not allowing others to score.

But back to the letter-writer’s comment. If either the Republicans or Democrats actually accomplished something, it would become obvious that so much more could have been done and could have been done a lot sooner and easier, that they’d all look like fools. People would ask a lot of questions like: “What took so long?” And people may remember the inefficiency at election time. So it really doesn’t matter what the issue is or who follows the party line, or who plays the rebel role this time. All that matters is that nothing substantive happens.

Come on, there must be solutions to our problems out there. Politicians aren’t stupid, are they? I mean, after all, they concocted this self-serving system, didn’t they? But why bother to do the real work of problem-solving if you can do nothing and still succeed?

How sad it is that the system has evolved to the point where it could crumble and actually even hurt the participants in they were successful at problem-solving. But, after all, it is just a game for them. And like I’ve said before, it’s the only game in which the players never lose, only the spectators do.

I’ll bet if the maximum tenure was two four-year terms, politicians would work like crazy to get meaningful things done so they would earn that second term.

Rah-rah-rah, sis-boom-bah! Go team! Which team, you ask? What difference does it make? The game’s going to end up 0-0 no matter what.


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