I was asked if I wanted to write something sports related for this fifth special sports issue of the Blade. My response was other than following Bryce Harper of the Nationals and able to tell you his stats having drooled over his pictures in ESPN’s The Magazine 2015 body issue, my knowledge of sports would definitely not be enough to fill a column.
My sport is politics and the Democrats are my team. I follow them like others follow the Yankees, the Wizards or the Williams sisters. I can quote poll numbers and tell you who the lead-off spokesperson for an issue is; and who just said something that would equate to a Hail Mary pass because nothing else they tried has worked.
In the world of politics the equivalent to a hole-in-one would be Democrat Ralph Northam trouncing Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor’s race and bringing in the entire Democratic ticket with him including taking over the House of Delegates and the Senate in the General Assembly. Yes a hole-in-one is rare, but it does happen and getting one is every golfer’s goal.
The difference between the world of sport and politics is great. Sports are important and provide entertainment. They are also important teaching opportunities for children who can learn about teamwork and that a strong work ethic can lead to success.
Politics are more about impacting the world and groups of people rather than any one person. Individuals are impacted but usually through a focus on a large group an example being the fight for equal pay for equal work for women. When politics intersects with a sporting event, such as the bombing at the Boston marathon, the outcome of a tragic event can be to unite a city; bringing people together.
The decisions of a politician can make the difference between war and peace. Our politicians endeavor to make progress on the principles and policies they espouse and we pick our political team based on the principles and policies we have in common. My team, the Democrats, work for progress in the areas of equality, equal economic opportunity, and civil and human rights for all. I cheer for them and work to help them win elections because those are the ideals I believe in. Moving those principles and policies forward is crucial to determining what kind of country and world we and future generations will live in.
In sports even the most die-hard fans will criticize the team they support. Questioning who the manager plays on a particular day; yelling at a player who makes a crucial error; questioning the quarterback on a call. In politics we also question our team’s decisions and don’t necessarily agree with everything they do.
Whether you are team Republican, team Democrat or team Green Party; in these difficult times it would be rare to agree with every decision your team makes. As a Democrat, I often question the Democratic National Committee on how they are moving forward, or as may be the case, not moving forward. I question their batting order finding myself hoping some of our older players would be able to move beyond their egos and take a back seat to the up and coming members of the team. We need to spend more time focused on building our bench. Having a team consisting only of veterans who got their start in politics 30 and 40 years ago isn’t the way to build for success in the future. We need the old codgers, and I feel comfortable calling them that as I am one, to continue to offer their wisdom and help to our leaders of the future, but they need to begin to move off center stage.
Like with any sports team the younger players need the opportunity to show what they can do and get the experience they will need to win. In politics that experience will help them to lead the world so they are ready to make those life-or-death decisions politicians are often called upon to make. Decisions impacting whether a person gets the healthcare they need; gets the opportunity to go to school; to find a decent job; and even whether or not our young men and women are sent to war.
My hope is more people will see politics as a sport and realize it is one they can and should participate in. At a basic level it’s easy for every citizen to do. Just go out and exercise your right to vote.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.