Politics is Not a Team Sport


This post was authored by Chris Snook

Getting punched from the right hurts just the same as the left, so you wouldn’t welcome either with open arms, would you? What should be an obvious statement with an obvious answer to the following question is lost to the partisan. In fact, one can argue that Congress is so mired in incompetence because people will vote for their chosen party every year, regardless of what the candidate stands for. Tell Republicans that a liberal policy is conservative, or tell a Democrat that a conservative policy is liberal, and they’ll be more likely to support it.

Partisanship and the ‘us against them’ mentality is apparent in all levels of political life. Everyone has sat at a dinner table listening to a family member complain about how the Democrats and/or Republicans are destroying this nation, as if being a member of a national organization denotes one’s core beliefs (or that either party differs greatly on a national level but that is for another day).

When it comes to answer the question of whether people are rational and guided by what policies they want either party to pursue, the answer is no. A 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study analyzed the attitudes of voters nationwide finding that average voters with strong commitments to a political party cared more about their party winning, than the policies being pursued by that party. The study showed that 41% of party tied voters agreed that simply winning elections is most important to them, while just 35% agreed that policy is more important and only 24% remained neutral on the issue.

In an even more shocking study by Mark Joslyn and Don Haider-Markel of Kansas University, educated people who demonstrate partisanship are even more likely to disagree along party lines, than those who are less educated, regardless of how right or wrong the particular stance was. For example, they used the surge in Iraq, which saw well educated Democrats supporting incorrect facts about the effect of the 2007 troop surge, while Republicans correctly believed the surge once in place had decreased the rate of U.S. military casualties (the surge was championed by the Republicans and strongly criticized by the Democrats).

It is sickening to observe that one’s political affiliation determines their policy stances. The opposite should be the case.

In the weeks leading up to Donald Trump’s ascension to the, I have personally seen people cheering his mistakes, as if a bad President Trump would be a ‘win’. No, a bad President Trump would be bad for everyone. The same people who championed the peace and harmony message of Bernie Sanders are already nostalgic about President Obama. Remember, Obama is the same man who bombed more countries that any U.S President in history, was at war every day of his presidential career, approved drone strikes on a Pakistani children’s hospital, sold guns to Mexican cartels, fueled a civil war in Libya and gave weapons to insurgent groups that turned around and joined ISIS. We should also not forget how progressives rallied behind Hillary Clinton despite her ties to Wall Street, aggressive foreign policy and questionable voting record just because she was the Democratic nominee. On the other end I have seen people who voted for Trump defend him as he consistently distances himself from his campaign promises because he is ‘their guy,’ or “says what he believes” – as if that shouldn’t be the bare minimum for supporting a candidate.

The absurdity it so thick one could cut it with a knife. What matters is the policies and decisions our politicians make when in office, not their rhetoric or political party. If one wishes to be irrationally supportive of something we have sports, there is no reason to be a fan(atic) of a political party. There is only one team in politics, us.





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