Derangement

I think this is the first political post in The Cub House. I promise, this will not be a trend.

If you could sit in the sports department at a newspaper and read the e-mails that come in or listen to the voicemails or take the calls, I think you could better understand the above video and politics in general.

This is the nature of humans: We seek like-minded people to form groups with us, we view our group as superior to other groups and we seek to prove this to ourselves by removing from all other groups, especially competing ones, all complexity.

Kansas fans do it. Kansas State fans do it. Democrats do it. Republicans do it.

Example: “K-State fans are just a bunch of hicks who drink Keystone Light and think The Olive Garden qualifies as ‘fine dining.'”

Example: “KU fans are just a bunch of elitist snobs that drink Boulevard Wheat and think they’re too good for Chili’s.”

Example: “All Democrats care about is getting re-elected.”

Example: “All Republicans care about is getting re-elected.”

What Rachel Maddow is pointing out in the above video is that conservatives now are doing exactly what liberals did when George W. Bush was President — rejecting anything he does on the basis that if it’s him doing it, it must be bad, and generally rooting for his failure.

Examples of this are conservative celebrations that Chicago did not get the Olympics and gleeful shots at Obama for winning the Nobel Peace Prize*.

*Probably an unfair criticism, actually, considering Obama himself seems a little embarrassed that he won the thing.

“To be honest, I don’t feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize,” he said.

I don’t want to say Maddow is not being objective, because what I think she’s saying is fair, but I think she’s coming from a place of attachment that doesn’t allow her to see the big picture when she talks of this derangement syndrome.

“Obama/Bush derangement syndrome” doesn’t exist. Creating a phrase like that implies that this behavior only applies to those two men.

What exists are automotonic people who don’t want to think, but rather be told what to think. And they exist on both sides of the political aisle, and just about everywhere else.

But the best example is sports.

When you consider that sports are utterly devoid of consequence, the passion, blind loyalty and lack of independent thought exhibited within them borders on frightening.

At our paper, the KU-K-State rivalry is the big sports thing. Both sides think we’re biased against their team. It is not uncommon to receive, the same day, e-mails from people saying we don’t cover KU enough and e-mails saying we don’t cover K-State enough. One former sports editor once decided to answer a critic by forwarding him all the e-mail we received from the other side.

The truth is, we go to sometimes silly lengths to make sure we’re devoting equal space to both teams.

But don’t tell that to the guy who called me one day, wondering why the K-State story was on the top of page one and the KU story was on the inside, considering that, “KU is the No. 1 seed and K-State barely got into the tournament.”

“Well,” I told him. “I didn’t lay out the page, but it’s probably because K-State plays tonight and KU doesn’t play until Saturday.”

No amount of logic could get through to this guy. He had decided The Capital-Journal was “printed in purple ink” long ago, and he wasn’t going to let fact or reasoning interfere with that conclusion.

This exact same thing happens in politics. If you’re a card-carrying Republican or a card-carrying Democrat — meaning your political affiliation is a central part of your identity — you’re probably guilty of this and I’m probably not going to be very interested in talking to you about current affairs, just as I don’t care to talk about sports with the myopic fans.

The party system has everything to do with attracting followers and little to do with getting it right. It’s just branding. It’s just fanhood.

So for Maddow to point across and say, “Hey, you’re doing the same thing you accused us of” is true, but also a statement of the obvious.

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2 thoughts on “Derangement

  1. in light of sports, the over-zealous fan is usually annoying at worst.

    in light of politics, party purists are still annoying, but also scary. they present a constant tongue-in-cheek problem, saying, “the world would sure be better if the other guy would see my point,” while, of course, they’re blind to any other point. i think it’s why “generation x” has inherited so much cynicism; we see a bigger picture than what “taking sides” has to offer, but our grand viewpoint hasn’t created any clarity. just more opinions.

    i probably should be excited & proud of my president having won such a meaningful prize. but instead i feel indifferent. i’m sad about my apathy, but it’s still there.

    maybe we’ll gain some Fire about it all as we grow older.

  2. Thank you.

    In my many travels and conversations over the past 22 years *sarcasm*, I have realized that the people who seem to be the most attached to, or fanatical about a political party or an athletic team, are usually the most ignorant about the political issue at hand or the sport affiliated with the team.

    Case in point: the girl at the KU game with her face painted in crimson and blue glitter, a jersey on that has been cut and pasted to the point where it is only 1/4 its original size, and a sign that reads, “Marry me, Jeff Boschee.”

    Although when it comes to the political side of things, this does seem to happen more with the liberals. But that is simply media’s fault. The same media that has made us mourn over and over and over and over again the death of a drug addict/suspected pedophile, more than any president. EVER.

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