Editor's Space

Home Runs and Elections

If you are a baseball fan, you want your team to win, of course. single game you watch, you want your team to win. But even the most loyal fan knows that it is impossible for a team to win every single game. It is not only impossible, but it wouldn’t be good. If one team could win every single game, sooner or later, it would destroy the sport that loyal fan loves so much.

Would you watch baseball if the New York Yankees had won every single game since 1903? (Some Mets fans would say they wouldn’t mind if the Yankees lost every single game from now to eternity, but that is a completely different matter.)

That is one of the main differences between sports and other industries. Apple or Coca-Cola would love to outsell their competitors every single quarter. The Yankees’ owners know that winning every single game would ruin their business in the long run.

So any baseball fan knows in his or her heart that while it is natural to always want their team to win the game they are playing, they don’t really want any team – not even their own – to win all the games, because it would destroy the sport they love.

Democracy is, in a certain way, like baseball. You want your party to win every single election. But if you like democracy and freedom you know that it wouldn’t be good if that happened. Democracy is based on the notion that no party, no leader has all of the solutions, all of the answers.

The two opposite desires of the baseball fan – that his or her team wins every game and that baseball remains a thrilling sport – should be present in the citizen of a democracy. You have to accept that in the long run, it would be a disaster if your party won every single time.

A democratic citizen knows that, regardless of the party we support, it is best for the country if different parties alternate in government, because no party has all the answers, and because power corrupts any party, any leader.

Democracy requires humility. In order to embrace democracy, you need to accept that sometimes you might be wrong, that people with whom you radically disagree might be right about some issues. And that, even if they are wrong, most of them are good citizens that want the best for the country, even when you think applying their ideas could be disastrous.

The political discourse we often hear today is essentially antidemocratic. Each side portrays the other as malevolent, stupid or even treacherous. The coarsest language is heard in the corridors of power, coming from left and right.

Coarse language and misplaced promises of impeaching or putting political opponents in prison only serve to poison and degrade society. The constant appeal of some of our politicos to the basest feelings of their supporters is not just immoral, but also dangerous.

We have a divided country, and there are many challenges ahead. Since Jan. 1, we also have a divided legislative branch. Like the baseball fans, our elected officials need to realize that there is a difference between wanting to win the game and doing what is best for the sport. It is high time for them to behave like adults in charge of the most important country in the world. It is time to realize that their egos and their parties are not more important than the future of the country. Play ball!

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