Now that the major political party conventions are over, we can return to sports…sort of!
“You cannot depend on presidents, and you cannot depend on elections and voting to solve problems …people organizing, demonstrating, clamoring…they are the only ones that can push the president, push congress into change….” Howard Zinn
Change is never easy – in sports and in life. Neither is taking action for justice as it relates to labor rights, civil rights, gender equality, and pro-peace initiatives, just to name a few. Witness the indignities afforded such great American sports icons including Curt Flood, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Billy Jean King, and Jackie Robinson, among many, many others. Each of these gifted individuals made sports and life inAmericabetter through their courage to challenge the systems that oppressed them, and forced change for the better.
Well, sports fans, there is another system that needs change – our electoral system. It’s broken beyond repair – and can no longer be fixed by working within a system as our above mentioned sports heroes did. Firing the manager, President Obama, won’t change things much despite the daily barrage of dire, fear inducing predictions about a Romney administration.
I am old enough to remember when a Republican Regan victory in 1980 was thought to be a sure sign that we’d all perish in a Cold War nuclear apocalypse. It never happened, and four years later Regan was re-elected in a landslide after Dwight Gooden was voted NL Rookie of the Year. And as for the threats of four more years of Obama – “the end of America as we know it” according to conservative pundits – I recall the same threatening proclamations for four more years of William Jefferson “Bubba” Clinton in 1994 – the year the New York Rangers put the chants of “1940” to rest.
For those of you who believe that a Romney administration will bring the end to Roe vs Wade, the prospective end of gay marriage etc. These and other social issues will be decided state by state by state by state.
As admirable and inspirational as our first African American president is for many citizens, the electoral crisis which has crippled theUnited Statesat present is bigger and far more complicated than the office of the presidency.
Think of Obama and Romney as drivers sitting behind the wheels of race cars with three flat tires – no matter how skilled the driver or whom you prefer; they’re not moving forward. Both drivers are doomed to spin around in circles unless the three wheels are repaired – or replaced.
Sports fans – regardless of who is president, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment benefits are all on the chopping block:America’s economic decline will accelerate.
The first step in addressing any problem – from steroids in baseball to pitch counts- is to admit that there is a problem in the first place. Before the system can be made good again, it has to be stopped – temporarily. An Indy pit crew cannot substitute bad tires for good on a race car while the car is still in motion. MLB managers cannot change the pitcher in the middle of his wind-up nor a can an NFL coach opt for new quarterback while the QB is in the pocket.
Contrary to popular rhetoric, there is an “I” in sports – and government. Here are seven reasons why “I” am considering an alternative in this election season:
1. I can no longer endorse a play-for-pay system that works against the interests of the people it is obligated to represent. Voting simply perpetuatesAmerica’s oligarchic Democracy wherein most or all of the political power rests with a small segment of society. Mitt Romney was wrong when he professed that “corporations are people.” He should have said “people are not as powerful as corporations.” The Obama Administration has continued the recent practice of affording more power to corporations with the support of Republicans and Democrats alike. That’s not democracy – you can look it up!
2. Refusing to vote is my strongest voice against our current dysfunctional version of democracy. The smaller the voter turnout; the greater the message to my fellow Americans and the world that our system needs an overhaul. A strong message has the potential to initiate action for reform. There is no alternative to no alternatives in the electorate.
3. To paraphrase an oldTexassaying: “when you find that you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging!” Many political parties, from the Greens to the Libertarians, have platforms which can benefit all Americans. However no independent party has a chance of winning, nor do they have any remote possibility of having their issues adopted by the two “parties” which control the electorate. There are laws on the books in all fifty states which prevent third, fourth, and fifth parties from being competitive despite the fact that the majority of Americans yearn for more choices and voices in government. Even the debates are limited to Democrats and Republicans – two entities which control the debate selection process via their “ownership” of the Commission of Presidential Debates. Even Lingerie Football League has more substance to their “sizzle!”
The role of independent parties in American history cannot be understated. The abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, and important stuff such as the formation labor unions and laws to protect farmers’ rights were all great advancements that benefited all of society. However, a vote for an independent party, sadly, is also wasted in our current system.
4. Sadly, everything I have been taught about our vote “counting,” my vote as an agent of change, my vote as the duty of citizenship, my vote as a participation in democracy, my vote as a voice of the people, and so forth – has become a sobering un-truth. I can’t keep lying to myself, and my fellow citizens. I’m sure that others will accuse me of shirking my civic responsibility by not voting. The arguments against not voting are all valid – provided that the system is fair and somewhat balanced.
Would any sports fan consider a football game valid if only one team had possession of the ball? If only one team were allowed to bat, or control the puck? Of course not! But that’s what our electorate has become – the plutocrats won’t give up the ball! So, why should I play their game? When the game is rigged, you stop playing the game.
5. If I vote, then I am a willful participant of a system that works against all of us in the 99% – and, consequently makes me a significant part of the problem. I wish to be part of a solution.Americaneeds to start over again with an electoral system that is free of special interest bribery – which is a direct byproduct of lawless capitalism.
Refusing to vote and refusing to support the oppressive forces that own and operate my country is a good start to building a new, superior, truly democraticAmericawith liberty, justice, peace, education, environmental consciousness, gay marriage, and health care for all.
Check the scorecard sports fans, electoral reform on the Congressional floor has failed while the game is in play – now, more than ever, the electoral game needs to be called out.
6. A vote for any of the two major parties and their candidates will, in effect, be an endorsement of prolonged war and all that goes with it (torture, civilian casualties), economic inequality, American hegemony, the suppression of free speech and right to assemble, the continued violation of civil and human rights, the designated hitter rule (just kidding) and the rapidly accelerated destruction of the environment.
A vote for any of the two major parties will not result in the end of lawless capitalism, investment in renewable energy, health care which does not burden business, free trade agreements which are not about free trade, the reinstatement of laws in the banking, and advanced education.
Your choice is to be lied to by fake conservatives, or fake liberals. Where is the fair play, sports fans?
7. Voting for the “lesser of two evils because: “the other guy is worse…. now is not the time…it’s too dangerous… the second term will be better….I don’t vote ‘for’ someone, I vote ‘against’ the other one….” has run its course. Reality check: the lesser of two evils has produced the greater of two, three, four, five evils in every election cycle. Sports fans, we’re running the same plays year after year and expecting different results. We are deciding who will be the more effective evil.
When a football team fails to make a first down, they punt; go on the defense, then start over again. All the things that are happening inAmericaare things that I was taught would never happen inAmerica. I have learned my lesson.
To begin the long journey to repair our democracy…it’s time to punt the vote for Obamney!
“But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the obedience of the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power. When workers go on strike, huge corporations lose their power. When consumers boycott, huge business establishments have to give in. When soldiers refuse to fight, as so many soldiers did inVietnam, so many deserters, so many fraggings, acts of violence by enlisted men against officers inVietnam, B-52 pilots refusing to fly bombing missions anymore, war can’t go on. When enough soldiers refuse, the government has to decide we can’t continue. So, yes, people have the power. If they begin to organize, if they protest, if they create a strong enough movement, they can change things.” – Howard Zinn