It’s been 107 years since the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series, but that doesn’t stop the team’s loyal followers from heading out to the ballpark and cheering them on. We’re talking America’s pastime, though, so it’s not surprising that people refuse to give up on the Cubs. Unfortunately, baseball isn’t America’s only pastime. We don’t even stop at football or basketball. For rooting for our team and bashing those who root for the opposition, one sport stands above them all: politics.
During the tryouts and draft, fans on either side warm up by engaging in internecine battle. When it’s over, they may even protest and claim they’re going to sell their tickets. Most, but not all, are filthy liars. Sure, the Bern fizzled from a roaring flame to a tea light. His supporters didn’t like Hillary—they may not like her even now—but they have to support the team.
On the Republican side, there may be a tad more resolve, but much of it will fade by election day and many regular citizens (i.e., people smart enough to not be pundits) will vote for Donald Trump. Supreme Court vacancies, and stopping Hillary from filling them, demand it.
‘Gotta Support the Team’
It doesn’t matter that neither Hillary nor Trump represent the future of their parties or that a sizable portion of voters they need revile both. It doesn’t even matter that they’re both morally bankrupt charlatans who firmly believe the object of power is power. It’s the playoffs, and one of them is going to win. (Sorry, Gary Johnson, but it ain’t happening this year.) With team sports, you head to the field, hold your nose, and support the team.
At least with baseball you have something to root for, even if the most recent success for your team was 107 years ago. In politics, we’ve mostly been reduced to rooting against something. We’re not working for the pennant; we’re afraid. If the other team wins, it’s the end of the American experiment, including mom, baseball, and apple pie.
Well, screw that. It’s time to tap out, to become one of those super-fun people who discuss across social media the “sportsball” they’re not watching any time a major sporting event is on. It’s not only our constitutional right to abstain (although people who know slightly more about civics than those they insist we elect sometimes claim differently), at this point it’s becoming our duty. Even if we don’t abstain, at least we can be quiet about it. In the words of Timothy Leary, back before his descendants took over the establishment and made it all about centralizing and increasing state power: “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”
That’s because it’s our fault—all of it. Whether we’re talking the general nonsense and grandstanding, the notion that presidents are magical kings instead of megalomaniacal liars, or the never-ending impulse to “do something,” it’s on us because we can’t fathom staying home on election day. We have to go vote; we have to talk about our vote. Dropping out isn’t an option, some say. If it were and we were to choose it, then Trump might build a wall around every Taco Bell in the country or Hillary might support making all of us buy a certain service from the insurance industry. Ummm, bad example there, but you get what I’m laying down.
Voting Just Encourages Them
The problem with that is voting just encourages the bastards. Every vote is a show of support, a sign of approval for a group that barely qualifies as human. It’s a sign of how dysfunctional the system is that we not only care, we care deeply because, you know, we gotta support the team. Every time we go along with these nuts who seek to divide us so they can unify their power, we give them the tools they need to run roughshod over us, the Constitution, and the republic.
It’s not just the voting, however. Voting isn’t that bad. It’s the posturing that comes with voting, the notion that your team is the only team worthy of victory. People are not content just to vote, but also have to berate, castigate, and denigrate anyone who deigns to hold a differing opinion. Some take to social media and announce their choice, their goodness, and lambaste anyone who disagrees. Sure, your candidate isn’t perfect, and you wish the draft had gone differently, but, by God, that other person was forged in the crucible of Hell and people need to recognize that.
We have friends and family members who fall into this camp, who view every election as life or death and a reason to terminate friendships. (Family remains harder to get rid of, for now.) Personally, I think Jesus is a better option if you’re looking for a vessel in which to pour your dreams of salvation and prompt some witnessing, but there are also myriad sportsball teams if he doesn’t work for you.
See, many of us are guilty of getting overly impassioned by politics, of whooping and hollering as though the national championship is on the line. I know I was. I also know that you can quit, excepting occasional relapses. You can stop arguing with friends and family about why your team is right, even if you don’t claim them as your team and are simply repulsed by the opposition.
Granted, arguing on social media is smarter and less permanent than tattoos, so there’s that, but you could also just buy a hat to show your support, much like you can for your favorite ball club. Trump has some hats for sale. Hillary does, too, although the Woman Card is a steal at only $5.
But why would we temper our tone, shed our team spirit, and change the subject to something more uplifting like root canals or the opening sequence from “Up?” These are serious issues with serious outcomes that will determine the fate of mankind for the rest of time, right? Well, not really. The issues may be weighty, but their lifespan is pretty short, particularly when compared against the history of civilization, so maybe they’re not worthy of focusing our existence on them.
We Don’t Get Life Through the Party
The other problem with all the fussing and fighting is that it doesn’t work. You’re never going to convince a Cubs fan that the St. Louis Cardinals are the solution. Maybe you can convince them that some of the Cards’ strategies are smart or that not all their fans are out to murder puppies. Of course, everybody knows Cards fans are puppy-murderers, except Cards fans, who know it’s the Cubs’ parking lot where all the canicide goes down. But then comes the first crack of the bat, and not against someone’s skull.
Then it’s cold beers and Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and bonhomie. The other team is still wrong, mind you—and fans of opposing ball teams will vocally and vociferously remind one another of this—but they are all united around one ideal and one set of agreed-upon rules, with no Supreme Court hanging out and playing Calvinball after the fact. It’s personal, but not an extension of self, not a way to achieve salvation, not a signal of one’s goodness. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a game and talk some trash, all in good fun.
At the end of the game, regardless of outcome, no spectators get excoriated or—gasp—defriended on social media. I’m sure a holiday meal or two has been ruined by competing fan bases, but some people are just too uncouth to realize we’re trying to have a society here. Politics, though, will ruin a holiday meal or social gathering quicker than you can say “seventh inning stretch” and, alas, such ruination flows from bipartisan sources. (I will note, though, that the “How to Talk About X with Your Crazy Rightwing Father During Christmas Dinner” is a genre specific to the Left.)
In any case, if this describes you, just stop. Find yourself a new hobby, a more traditional team to cheer on. If you must vote, vote, and stay informed about the issues regardless of whether you choose to head to the polls. Hell, even discuss ideas and issues with people; go so far as to debate them.
But be good-natured, realistic, and civil about it. Be philosophical and ideological, and don’t fall into the trap of viewing the party as an extension of you, as part of the external struggle of good versus evil, as the only force for good and an entity worthy of fealty. For one, the party will always let you down and always objectify power over ideals. For another, it’s a far, far, far less productive use of your time than trying to figure out the infield fly rule or whether the Cubs have a chance this year.
For those keeping score, the Cubs’ chances are much better than the Libertarians’, and in a much more crowded field.