Politics are the Best Sports

The calendar turned to 2016 and it’s officially a Presidential election year.

I want to write about this election, but you can imagine my hesitation.

I don’t want to write about immigration reform, tax policy, institutional racism, gun control, or anything else that actually effects people’s lives.

There are 2 obvious reasons to stay out of politics on Facebook, blogs, the work place or anywhere else:

  1. I’m really not looking to offend anyone.
  2. Like most people, I’m too ignorant about complex issues to offer a relevant opinion on just about anything that might actually matter.

Also, I don’t really care.

Also, I don’t think it really matters.

Also, if I’m wrong, and it does matter, I’m still not sure I care.

Also, please don’t be offended that I don’t care about important issues. I’m glad that other people care and I’m glad stuff gets done, but I’m just not that guy.

I’m over it.

But I still want to write about the Presidential election for the same reason I want to write about sports.

Presidential elections are the best thing going.

Presidential elections are amazing because they’re essentially the best sporting events, but they only get played every 4 years. In that respect they’re like the Olympics except actually insanely good instead of shitty and un-watchable.

Presidential elections have everything that makes entertainment great. Personalities, rivalries, history, egoic explosions, pageantry, money, sex.

They’re fun to watch and you should always be able to pick a side, even if you don’t care.

Why is it fun to watch? Because it’s unscripted drama. Unpredictable humanity. Rules and records are made to be broken. Conventional wisdom, established to be violated.

Why can I always pick a side?

Not for the reason you might think. I used to think it was because of the issues.

It wasn’t.

Turns out, I pick a side for the same reason I picked sports teams. In other words, no reason whatsoever.

I root for Memphis teams because I was born and raised in Memphis. That’s not a reason, it’s either a historical accident or a karmic predisposition, depending on your point of view.

My political inclinations are equally quaint.

I was 7 years old in 1984. My mother took me into the booth with her to vote that year. I think she voted for Walter Mondale.

I kind of liked Reagan. He had nice hair.

In 1988, my 5th grade class held a mock debate. I was adamant about something relating to Michael Dukakis and missile defense. I doubt if my argument was fully developed, but I was into it.

As a 15-year old in 1992, after only knowing old Republican Presidents from other parts of the country, I watched in amazement as 2 young southerners celebrated on election night in Little Rock.

I think I started out rooting for Bush, switched to Paul Tsongas (I liked the name Tsongas), and was thrilled to see Clinton elected.

I liked the way Clinton communicated. He made me feel optimistic about my life. It had nothing to do with his now widely panned welfare reform programs or universal healthcare or crime or anything that mattered.

I voted for the first time, in 1996.

I still liked Clinton (he was cool) and I was a closet ageist and couldn’t support Dole and his decrepit arm. Dole injured his arm while serving in World War II, but that type of heroism didn’t matter to me. I was a 19-year old moron with absolutely zero adult life experience who had as much business voting in an election as I would have had to pilot a space ship.

Side note: I really liked Ross Perot. I knew nothing about his policies or his intentions, but I liked that he was an outsider and talked funny. Plus there was that SNL skit about him dropping his running mate (James Stockdale) off in the woods to abandon him after his horrid debate performance.

I watched the Florida recount with actual fear in 2000, for an entire month. As a first year law student, I was shocked to discover how tenuous American elections actually are. At the time, I was extremely partial to the Clinton legacy, even though Gore probably lost the election for running away from it.

Also, having a President from my home state seemed fun.

In 2004 and 2008, I went door to door with actual emotion for the lefties, convinced that any effort I could contribute might actually make a difference. In my defense, I was living in a swing state. And in my further defense, I was caught up in anti-war idealism typical for a 20-something and a belief that George W. Bush was the worst thing that ever happened to America.

Perhaps that’s true, though I doubt it and either way I’ve moved on.

2012 was probably the least interesting election of my lifetime, but I went into it with an open mind and voted for the least offensive option.

So looking back – you could say I started out on one side and have slowly come back to the middle.

Or you could say I started out with a sense that it all somehow matters and now I’ve woken up to the fact that it probably doesn’t. At least not in the grander scheme of things.

I’m talking humanity’s place in the universe type grand.

I’m honestly not sure which progression is more reflective of the truth – that I’ve evolved politically or gained a truer perspective. Perhaps both, perhaps neither.

This time I’d very much like to see what would happen if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. Not because I think he’ll Make America Great Again, but just because I think it would make for great television in 2016.

I can’t turn it off.

I don’t necessarily think Trump is good, or right. He might actually be the worst thing that ever happened to America.

I have no idea.

If America’s political system is as broken as everyone seems to say it is, why not let Trump go in there and burn it to the ground?

Reckless, perhaps.

But again, my political inclinations are as tethered to logic as the reasons I’ll be cheering for Alabama on Monday night.

I like Saban, I like dynasties and I like excellence.

Likes. Feelings. Etc…

Nothing more enlightened than that.

But still, it’s the best sport on TV.