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The Sportsball Metaphor

In the two-party system of American politics, we like to think of everything as though it’s a team sport. The goal is the presidency and the ball, which must be handled with such specific care, is the electorate.

But much as this might be a good model for how things are (how they are presented) it is a terrible representation of how things ought to be.

So imagine this instead: the players are the politicians (in a true democracy, this should mean that the electorate gets to play, too) and the ball is an issue. Take, for example, because it’s so controversial, abortion. One goal is allowing it, the other is making it punishable. (Prevention is, of course, a whole other ballgame.)

What team you are on depends entirely on how you feel about that particular issue.

But that is not the only ball in play. Say there is another ball—the first was a basketball, this one’s for soccer—only this one represents building a wall between our country and the one next door. One goal represents building it, the other represents doing something more useful with our cash.

The problem is, though, the teams aren’t necessarily the same. One person who hates abortion might crave a wall, but another might be disadvantaged because of it. A third might have no opinion at all—if passed the ball, she might shrug it off and pretend she’s not playing. The same is true of the other side, because there is nothing about these two bills that suggests the one flows from the other, besides a pernicious fiction that one set of priorities is “good” as a whole and the other is “evil”.

We’ve been trying to yoke all of the goals together by party and now we are surprised that more and more players hate our two-party system and are refusing to vote.

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About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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