I had a revelation while attending a college football game. Perhaps, it wasn’t so much of a revelation as it was a connecting of the dots between human nature and politics, and it triggered a realization.
In LA, where I lived for 20 years, I attended every Iowa Rose Bowl appearance and cheered along with other Iowa expatriots in bars any time Iowa was televised. Yet, I am a Northwestern University graduate and so, I must admit that I root against Iowa once a year.
As I cheered for the Wildcats, alone in a sea of black and gold, with the exception of my teenage son who wants to go to Northwestern law school someday, I noted a behavior concerning how we take sides.
A ballcarrier from Iowa was racing toward the sidelines and right at the point of being at the sideline he was hit hard by a Northwestern linebacker. A flag was thrown and the crowd cheered for the inevitable “unnecessary roughness” call.
The officials convened and two refs were quite adamant about something. The flag was then picked up and the official announced, “There is no flag on the play!”
The crowd was furious. The Hawkeye fans surrounding me screamed, “You’re blind! That was a personal foul!!”
The JumboTron then showed the play, all the way through the alleged crime. It wasn’t a foul. The runner’s body was leaning over the line, but his feet were still in bounds when he was hit. The Iowa crowd was still not convinced and the woman next to me and the man behind her were dumbfounded.
So…I leaned over and said, “It was a clean hit.”
“B@!!$#!t!” bellowed the woman, with Hawkeye logos under both eyes and wearing black and gold striped overalls, “It wasn’t even close! That was flagrant!”
There wasn’t the slightest doubt in her mind that she was correct and the man behind her concurred as he said to me, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
But….it was a clean hit.
And that doesn’t matter. They were convinced, along with 60,000 other Hawkeye fans that they’d been cheated and betrayed by the officials.
As fate would have it, soon after that play, Northwestern had the ball and the sequence of events were nearly identical. The Northwestern quarterback was hit by the sideline and flew well into the Iowa bench. No flag. And the Iowa crowd was perfectly satisfied that it was the correct No-call.
The woman turned turned to me and said sarcastically, “I suppose you think that was a foul.”
“Nope,” I replied. “He was in bounds just like the Iowa guy.”
“B^!s#!t,” she grumbled again, “those refs were %@#ed on the other call!”
That’s how we are. The home team never gets enough calls to fall their way and the officials are always blind when things go the other way. That home turf behavior is no different when we apply our feelings to politics; when our side wins it is because it was the correct course of action, when the other finds success it’s because they were given unfair breaks.
(Let’s replace “officials” with “government” or…could that be where I was going with this in the first place?)
I’m having a very hard time defending our President these days, not because I am having doubts about his integrity or his record, but because the other side has been complaining so loudly about bad officiating that the game is constantly under review.
It appears to many people that everything is falling apart; the health care debate rages on, the NSA ramps up survelliance, ISIS emerges from the sands of Syria, a couple of stock market fumbles, and the right wing media machine has a field day.
“We told you so!”
“This is the worst President in history!”
They’ve coined “Obama-pologists” to describe those of us who continue to defend the administration.
But, the truth is not apparent to the angry crowd. The truth is, ACA is essentially working, and with cooperative improvements, it could work even better. The highest percentage of Americans are now insured than any time in history. Worries of bankruptcy due to medical costs are fading.
The truth is, the NSA is simply continuing the same out of control agenda outlined since the Patriot Act.
The truth is, a government shutdown, engineered by Republicans, came with a 24 billion dollar price tag, and slowed our growth.
And the truth is, emerging militant caliphates are a result of a fractured balance largely caused by the invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, there is no doubt, but he kept any threat to his authority, even extremists, in check.
The pack mentality of whichever side you’re on, and the behemoth of media that will fan whichever flame brings the best revenue, will continue to grow. We’ve created a mythical concept of what Presidents can do and the crowd has done this without reading the rule book.
And we hate the officials who are bound by those rules when they aren’t applied in our favor. Human nature, it seems, just might be the enemy of reason.
The role of the media (the press) in the design of our Republic was to keep the conversation honest and to report the facts so that we (the people) can make informed, rather than inflamed, opinions. But, perhaps, there is a glimmer of hope, if we could apply the media to politics the way it still operates in sports—
I watched the replay on television of the game I attended, and lo and behold, when the “flagrant foul” was committed, the play by play announcers said, “That was a good call by the officials to pick up the flag; it was a clean hit.”
They told the truth.