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Bolton’s Bias: Team spirit politics cripple nation

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.

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This is a political article so bear with me because there is a point at the end.

“Ray Lewis tells me you will never hate someone so much like you’ll hate the Steelers,” Ravens Cornerback Jimmy Smith said. This quote comes from a Baltimore Sun article from 2011, and it outlines a mentality which is prevalent, appropriate for the situation, and most of all, entertaining.

At least in sports.

Anyone who has played or watched highly competitive sports understands the special hatred for the rival. There is nothing as bad as losing to them, and there are absolutely no redeeming qualities about them at all. If you ask most Ravens fans about Ben Roethlisberger, he is a no-good rapist whose only success comes from a string of lucky plays. This is absolutely untrue, although, as a Ravens fan, it does hurt me to admit it.

The point is that it pains me to say that I, and many athletes, hate to admit that our rivals have good qualities about them. We dislike them without knowing them or listening to them, and we certainly do not understand them or care about their opinion.

Now imagine having to work with a person — who is the target of similar feelings — to make decisions that affect hundreds of millions of lives.

That is what the two-party system has created in America. A mentality that people of opposing political viewpoints are our opponents. With disgustingly biased news organizations, such as FOX and MSNBC, acting as boosters and the politicians as the players, the American people have divided themselves like every rival fan base.

Earlier I said that rivalries were entertaining and appropriate in sports. I stand by that. However, what is acceptable in games played for fun and pride is less acceptable when used in governing the most powerful country in the world.

Now I am not a member of Congress, so I do not know if what the politicians show on T.V. is reality or not, but during interviews they are shockingly similar to a Hines Ward (famous Steeler) and Terrell Suggs (famous Raven) interview which basically boiled down to the degree of hatred Suggs had for Ward.

Although I cannot speak to the accuracy of my analogy in regards to the players, I can say for sure that it holds up in terms of the fans. The lack of communication between people having a political debate is astounding at times, especially considering the fact that they always end up at a decibel just below hearing loss. The only topic which creates the same stubborn attitude when being discussed by people of different persuasions is religion. To put that in JC terms, voters in this country have about the same ability to discuss and compromise on political issues as high schoolers do on Chipotle and Qdoba

To some extent, some people will always disagree about the issues facing this country. However, the problem is that the two-party system gives those people lines to stand behind. Moderate liberals and moderate conservatives end up siding with radical members of their own party rather than moderates of the other party, even when they may be closer to the other moderates.

The parties create teams of people who want their team to be successful, and they write off millions of strangers as idiots, liars, and wrongdoers, without even talking to them. We are all part of one party: The United States of America. We need to start acting like it and all play on the same team.

Dropping party-affiliated titles would, at the least, cause some confusion, but it would spark conversation. Imagine if all self-identifying party members had to explain their specific views on a variety of issues rather than simply identifying themselves as one party or the other. Even more incredible, imagine if the people running for office had to do it. Suddenly, there is much more conversation.

This change in mindset would also deal with what I see as the second largest issue facing our country—apathetic voters. When politicians stop using Republican and Democrat to describe themselves, all the voters who did not care enough to do more research are suddenly stuck having to actually look into the platforms that they are voting on. With a 14 percent approval rating but a 90 percent incumbancy percentage, it is clear that the duty of being informed about what you are voting on has fallen by the wayside.

The mindset of a whole population is a hard thing to change. Especially when it is as ingrained as the political parties are in the U.S. However, if we can change the way we think about politics, we may be able to drop that Ray Lewis mentality and work together to deal with our issues.

Will Bolton is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Bolton’s Bias: Team spirit politics cripple nation”

  1. Sarah Scherer on March 23rd, 2015 11:51 pm

    Hey there. I’m a writer for my school (also Catholic) newspaper, El Cid, and soon-to-be Option Editor. I found this publication by chance, but because of an assignment to check out other schools’ newspapers. The Opinion section of my newspaper is by far the weakest and least utilized, but I am absolutely inspired by the set-up you have here at The Patriot. I have yet to come across a poorly written article on this website. These articles are easy-reading, researched, and interesting. That last thing, interesting, is definitely hardest to achieve. I actually want to read almost every article in the Opinions section – be it debates, general editorials or these columns. Amazing. You guys should be proud. I have to say… it’s especially surprising that your school’s administration allows you to publish some of the topics that I’ve seen on here (abortion, gay rights, Snowden), and I absolutely admire them for it. We live in this world and these things are actually happening. Catholic beliefs are most definitely being challenged in the “real world,” so why shouldn’t they be in the school’s publication? As I saw in the comments of the column titled something like, “Pro-choice’s time to scream,” establishing and sharing a viewpoint on controversial topics like this gets people thinking. The article’s argument was well-structured, supported and convincing, but so were opposing comments. It’s so wonderful to see both sides presented in such a well-mannered and non-offensive way (which generates respect for both sides.) I am curious to see the response of my school’s administration, and my journalism class when I show them your paper. Thank you, you are the perfect model for everything a high school paper should be. Forget that – you’re more responsible in your articles than Fox, MSNBC, CNN and other completely skewed, pathetic media sources with their editorialized “news.”

    I’ll let that take me into actually addressing this article…
    I don’t have much experience writing Opinions pieces, but I know a good one when I read it. Your comparison to sports rivalries makes your points accessible and understandable to everyone, which is not an easy thing to do. I love the basis of your entire column, “an opposing view,” and with this article in particular, it’s exciting to see that someone shares my opinions regarding the general media and the political system of this country. The whole Republican vs. democrat, liberal vs. conservative, FOX vs. CNN thing we have going is irresponsible and makes no sense. Everyone seems to accept it as “how politics work,” but really, categorizing people limits us extremely; especially when there are only TWO supposed sides for every situation or problem that presents itself in America. That’s blatantly unrealistic. There are endless sides to an issue – it’s called “personal opinion,” and personally, most of my opinions cannot be categorized as either liberal or conservative. I would imagine most Americans find themselves in the same situation. Funny, considering hardly anyone labels themselves “Independent,” probably because there isn’t ever an Independent candidate (or at least one who has an entire biased media organization behind them.)

    I’d like to quote my favorite points of yours:

    “Imagine if all self-identifying party members had to explain their specific views on a variety of issues rather than simply identifying themselves as one party or the other. Even more incredible, imagine if the people running for office had to do it. Suddenly, there is much more conversation.”

    YES. Thank you. The way they are now, presidential debates are nauseating. Making up a hypothetical situation as you did here is so convincing and thought-provoking.

    “…what is acceptable in games played for fun and pride is less acceptable when used in governing the most powerful country in the world.”

    Hilarious, blatantly honest, perfect transition from your analogy to the real topic at hand.

    “We are all part of one party: The United States of America. We need to start acting like it and all play on the same team.”

    Word.

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Bolton’s Bias: Team spirit politics cripple nation