Politics Is a Game


During the recent meeting of the Democratic Party’s rules committee, television showed a woman blubbering uncontrollably, tears pouring down her face, as she moaned about the Florida-Michigan delegate settlement that caused her to lose her vote.

I was struck by a fantasy. Wouldn’t it be good if we had a few men dressed in SS uniforms who could burst into the room, grab this lady and heave her into a military truck?

The shock of this little charade, I thought to myself, might help her get her priorities in order. Politics is a game like baseball and basketball. The prizes are offices and patronage. There is no reason to cry — ever.

No one is being executed or tortured, no one is drowning in a flood, and no one is being gassed, shot or burned alive. Nothing of any real importance is occurring. It’s just a roomful of like-minded people quarreling over counting delegates. You get counted or you don’t get counted. It doesn’t matter in the long run.

I suppose it is OK that some people get emotional about elections and choose their champions based on feelings and illusions. If people made a cold, logical decision, "none of the above" would likely win by a landslide.

Despite all that, Americans should approach a political contest intellectually and analytically. They should carefully consider evidence of intelligence and honesty. They should carefully evaluate the candidates’ proposals.

In short, they should act like serious citizens instead of like a mob of Hannah Montana fans. I don’t see anything lovable about any of the candidates. They are all flawed. Underneath their public congeniality, they all have a hard edge and a ruthless ambition that has nothing to do with the public welfare or the good of the country. They want to win. Right now, that’s their obsession.

It isn’t necessary to fall in love with a candidate. It isn’t necessary to imagine that he or she is your friend. All people have to do is make a calculated decision that this particular candidate is more likely to make a better president than the others.

Then, having cast your vote, you go about your business, because the American people have virtually no control of their government once Election Day passes. Our republican form of government gives complete power to the officeholders for their full terms. Unless you contributed big, big bucks, you aren’t likely to receive any personal attention from any of them except on his or her terms.

Another point to keep in mind is that all of the problems the candidates are now afield promising to solve are problems they themselves created.

Who failed to seal our borders? Congress. Who voted for ruinous deficits, now totaling $9 trillion? Congress. Who voted to forbid the government from negotiating lower prices for the Medicare drugs? Congress. Who authorized a war on false pretenses? Congress. Who set Medicare and Social Security on the road to bankruptcy? Congress. Who votes to give billions of your tax dollars away to foreign governments? Congress. Who voted for free-trade agreements that have virtually destroyed America’s manufacturing base? Congress.

I have an extremely low opinion of politicians because they took a once grand country full of good people and have run it into the ground to the point that it requires a lot of optimism to see even a bleak future.

I would like to see all incumbents except Virginia Sen. James Webb defeated. Actually, what I’d really like to see happen to them is probably against the law to say. At any rate, tar and feathers would be hard to find in most communities.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.