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.