Presidential elections: The newest team sport

Christine Colleran

You can run, but you can’t hide…from the presidential election, that is.

The campaign game is in every newspaper, on every television channel, and posted on all the blogs these days. This is the first year I can legally vote and, to be honest, I am not all that thrilled with the responsibility. I don’t know when politics turned into a team sport in this country, but we keep cheering for Team Donkey or Team Elephant like they are facing off on Super Bowl Sunday.

As far as football goes, it’s great to love your favorite team. You can love them because of proximity, or because of your favorite player. You can even love them if you know they totally suck (I’m a Redskins fan). The point is, you don’t have to have an explanation to loyally stand by your team because at the end of the day – it’s just a game.

Politics, on the other hand, is no recreational pastime. Yet we continue to treat the election as one. We are quite comfortable picking a side then applying the passion and fanatic nature of team worship to a political party. It’s reckless, to lead with our hearts rather than our heads in such a situation.

We are so focused on getting the win that we hold the actual politicians less and less accountable. We pour money into their campaigns so that they can turn around and spend millions on negative ads warning us about their competitor.

This one lied, that one treats people poorly, this one has genital herpes (okay so I made that last bit up, but at isn’t it only a matter of time before they hit this low?). Sometimes I wonder if I am watching two presidential candidates or playground bullies slinging insults at each other.

We follow their lead, by the way. We fiercely stand by the team we chose, and refuse to hear valid points made by anyone supporting the opposing team. The media tells us an unsavory fact about one candidate, and we either rationalize it (if it’s our team’s candidate) or send the news out into the Facebook world and Twittersphere (if it’s the opposing candidate). It’s quite reminiscent of defending our favorite sports team, and not the way we should act about potential leaders of our country.

The worst part about this unwavering loyalty – many of us can’t manage to come up with the four or five points making up the candidates platform that we support. Sure a few of you can, and most of us can spew off things like abortion and health care, but those aren’t platforms, those are hot-topic issues in the media.

The nature of voting is such that when I drop mine in the ballot box, I am attempting to elect not only my leader but yours as well. Therefore, it is my duty to you to forgo the bias I have for one team or the other and research the candidates as well as their platforms in the coming weeks before the election. I hope you will take the time to do the same.
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