Monday, November 13, 2006

Hungover After The Football Game

Elections are very much like football games. You alternate between being on offense and defense. You have special teams of people with specialized assignments. You are always playing against the clock in a ground acquisition contest where you want to spend as much time on the other side of the 50 yard/percent line as possible. And the people who follow election year politics often act in a similar manner as football fans. They hoot and holler at every gaffe and every successful play. They show fanatical team loyalty by wearing their teams colors on the bodies, cars, and homes. And they gloat or cry with emotional honesty when their party or candidate wins or loses.

Of course, elections aren't football games and something more than pride and perhaps a wager with the local bookie are at stake. Lives are affected and even lost depending on the outcomes of elections. The people deciding the issues that impact us every day are being given a nearly sacred responsibility when they are elected, and it is in the best interest of all us football fans to remember that. Winning the election is step one of thousands on the road to change and going home drunk after the game is not an option when it comes to politics.

When the last vote is counted, the time to celebrate or mourn is short because the true game is now afoot. These political athletes will now be forced to live up to our expectations. But the only way to know that they are in fact doing the things that they said they would during the campaign is to remain vigilant.

Just like first-round draft picks, some will succeed and some will fail. Some will prove themselves worthy of our trust and others will disappoint, but as voters, we have an obligation to hold them accountable for their leadership. Personally, I will watching my elected officials to see if they address the poverty wage that the law currently mandates. I will be watching to see if the rich continue to get richer while the middle class struggles just to get by. I will be watching to see if we as a country can return to a foreign policy that emphasizes coalition building over strong arming and unilateral action. And finally, I will be watching to see if our representatives are willing to hold each other to the standards that the rest of us try to abide.

The election is over. The attack ads and campaign rhetoric are just echoes ringing in an empty stadium. Now it is the job of the spectators to be vigilant so that the players understand that they are accountable. Remember, they are playing with our money, our livelihoods, and our lives. Now is not the time to pack up and go home to wait for the next football game.

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