I remember the year I stopped becoming a fan of my favorite team. It happened in 2006 when I signed up to play fantasy football. After spending years dismissing the game as a gambling fad that would soon go away, my friend convinced me to try it out and I grudgingly signed on. Once I learned the ins and outs of fantasy football and realized that the statistics of individual players are the only thing that matter, I started cheering less for my team and began rooting on the players on my squad. I reached my sport watching nadir the week I my starting running back, who played for the hated Cowboys, was up against my favorite team in reality. I could not believe I was hoping that a Cowboy would get a touchdown against my beloved burgundy and gold.
I relay this story because I see now this is what politics has become for too many people. Folks who were once interested in truth and justice got sideswiped from their original pursuits once they latched on to personalities and parties. It has been an interesting 24 hours witnessing people’s reactions to the article I wrote about Bernie Sanders yesterday morning. While I was heartened by most of the feedback I was also dismayed by the indignation that was expressed by some who were outraged that I dare to criticize their idol.
I am not trying to be snide here when I use the word idol to describe how some folks elevate mere mortals to the level of demigods. After all, this is how too many Americans treat the rich and famous; we are quick to take bullets for personalities we have never met while we walk over people who need our help most. I hope I don’t sound too sanctimonious about this, I too once used to pray before the alter of the hope and change candidate before a mugging by reality woke me up to the bullshit of our politics. I understand in hindsight, thanks in large part to my dance with adversity, that our unhealthy fixation with stardom and how we treat politics as a sport is one of the main sources of injustice.
How do we expect our government to be responsive to our need if there is no basis of understanding for the demands we make of our political leaders. No human, let alone those who we entrust to lead us, should be above reproach. In fact, we should always be vigilant and criticize our elected officials irrespective of the party they belong to or the brand they have successfully built for themselves. Anger has been turned into a unidirectional megaphone where people howl at one side while they hold their tongue to the side they identify with. Folks who cheer for politics eventually become its victim. Click To Tweet
Situational morality abounds as all sides engage in a most comical form of insincere kabuki. Partisans are mum when excesses are committed by their team only to jump up and down with their hair on fire when the other side of the aisle perpetrate the same sins. The Russiagate media narrative is the apex of this duplicitous dance as Democrats and Republicans waltz in circles while swapping principles depending on how the political winds blow. Republicans are all the sudden Russian defenders as Democrats get all McCarthy with it. It would be funny if these things did not have such consequences.
The more I ponder on these things, the more I realize that maybe it’s time for all of us to take a break from politics and reflect internally. The changes we all yearn will not come from the top any more than ice will be found on the sun. Let us commit to one thing above all, justice should be inclusive and must not be situational. We can’t arrive at this conclusion if we keep treating politics like fantasy football. Stop cheering for politicians and parties and instead demand better from all sides or else we will become complicit in this continued shattering of society and the pillaging of our planet.
“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” ~ George Orwell
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.