The Problem With Politics: The Defense Never Scores

Some of my fondest childhood memories take place in the living room of my grandparents’ old farm house.  I can remember the bright red carpet with its swirled texture; the navy blue slippers my Grandma always wore in the house; the way her thighs looked when she sat, legs crossed at the knees, in her recliner.

The whole house smelled of pipe smoke, wet Dachshund, and pot roast.  The sound of cards snapped one after another, shuffled, re-dealt in a hundred hands of solitaire before lunch and the clatter of overgrown dog nails on a kitchen floor have the power to transport me back like it was yesterday; like I’m right there again.   The cuckoo clock ticks, tocks, sings.

There are many ways in which my Grandma was an imperfect woman.  She drank and smoked and, if the stories I’ve heard are any indication, she had loose morals.  Still, there is no one I would rather emulate.  She was a hell of a Donkey Kong player and an occasional better on horse races.

She introduced me to the work of Stephen King at the ripe old age of ten, and it was that same summer I remember learning why she watched baseball so much. “For the tight pants,” she’d exclaim.  I became a Tigers fan sprawled out on that smoke-soaked carpet, and snuggled into a handmade afghan on the sofa at the far end of the room.

I learned a lot during those games; choice words and the rules of the game, that leaning out of your seat and yelling at the television helped your team win.  I’ve learned a lot from the game since and if there was just one thing I could tell you about those games after all these years, it’d be that the defense never scored.  Obvious maybe, but a simple fact that seems lost on us now.

They were the same men, of course.  It was the same men who slid into home under thunderous applause, but when they were out in the field they never scored.  And that was okay.  It’s the same with almost every other sporting event.   We don’t even expect our defensive players to score.  Sure, in certain games an occasional interception is nice, but it’s not expected.  We don’t hinge entire games on whether or not the defense can score, that’s the offense’s job.  And yet, when it comes to politics — certainly a “sporting” event of a very different kind — we’ve been betting our future on that very thing.

As a country, we’ve been playing defense and only defense for so long we don’t even seem to remember what scoring is anymore.  We’re all so busy telling people why our opposition is wrong, we don’t know what it is to solve a problem, to even propose our own solutions.  We have no offense.

And how could we?

It’s been so long since a new idea was proposed in this country, I’d almost be inclined to wonder if we have a fundamental lack of them.  Almost, that is, if I didn’t have an inherent faith in the human race.   I can’t believe that we’re out of ideas, that we ever will be, I just think we’re so busy crushing others’ ideas that we’re not spending any time on our own.  And that needs to stop.  Because when people play offense, regardless of the team for which they play, incredible things happen.  Thunderous applause, even.   And if there’s anything America needs this year it’s that.  It’s hot dogs and beer, tight pants and bright stadium lights, thunderous applause and a well-earned score.

If there’s anything we need it’s new ideas, new actions, the offense.   The problem with American politics is that the defense never scores.

Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
800px-Girls_At_Highland_Avenue_Train_Stop
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Black Lives Matter Oscars Social Justice
Social Justice Warrior Battle Fatigue: When Blacksplaining is Too Much
Hope Terrorism Fear 9/11
Hope in the Age of Fear
150422-veep-1280x467
Hillary Clinton Must Channel Her Inner Selina Meyer
24269574620_9c30dcd1e5_o
Donald Trump Can’t Be My President
Israel Palestine BDS AIPAC Clinton
HRC, AIPAC, BDS and UC
Bernie supporters
The Bernie Love and Hillary Hate on the Left
Hope Terrorism Fear 9/11
Hope in the Age of Fear
SectedWmConf_600jpg_600_1
Will We Ever Be Able to Trust “Ambitious” Women?
24269574620_9c30dcd1e5_o
Donald Trump Can’t Be My President
writing-1170146_640
A Heartfelt Note from a Gen X Mom to Millennial Women
800px-USMC-090905-M-8097K-006
How to Get 18- to 24-Year-Olds to Vote? The November Fourth Concerts!
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
women over 50, lean in, lean out
Learning to Do Less
Israel Palestine BDS AIPAC Clinton
HRC, AIPAC, BDS and UC
800px-Girls_At_Highland_Avenue_Train_Stop
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
800px-Girls_At_Highland_Avenue_Train_Stop
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
369.the-eyes-have-it1
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread