I coached baseball, basketball , softball and soccer for many years. Mostly at the high school level. Every sport has a rule book. Very precise rules. Except soccer, which has more flexible “laws”. At any rate, the rules are written and you play by the rules.
That is what I tried to impress on my players. Know the rules. Play by the rules. If you break the rules, take the penalty. That is just sports.
But I also emphasized to them that there are actually two sets of rules. There are the rule book rules and then there are the actual rules. The second set of rules is more important. That set of rules changes for every contest. That second set of rules depends on the umpire or referee. The men and women who are interpreting the rules. Making decisions. Making the calls.
A good player will try to figure out how the ref is calling the game. If the umpire is calling low pitches “strikes” and high pitches “balls”, then your pitcher should keep it low. If the soccer ref is allowing a few elbows to fly now and then and some pushing, well, loosen up those elbows. If the basketball ref is calling every ticky-tack foul, stop ticky-tacking. In other words, play the rules, but also play the ref.
I recall umpiring a middle school baseball game between two competing schools. Now, middle school pitchers can often not be too accurate. And middle school age coaches want their players to hit the ball and play the game, not sit around and wait for walks. So, before the game I told both coaches that today was going to be a big strike zone. If the ball was near the plate its going to be a strike. Better be swinging the bat. They both concurred. Both were happy. As long as the rules were evenly enforced.
Which brings me to Mike Bloomberg.
Many Democrats are angry and frustrated that this billionaire has been spending like a drunken sailor on leave . (No offense, Dan). He is a real self-made billionaire (unlike the IMPOTUS) and has plenty to spend. Some say he is worth $60 billion. The 14th richest man in the world.
Some candidates are suggesting he is trying to buy the Democratic nomination . (DUH). They say he has an unfair advantage (DUH. DUH). They say they don’t want a billionaire stealing the nomination. Can’t say that I blame them. After all, they have been working for years to get this job and he just plunks down a pile of cash and he is in the race.
Well, we will know more about Bloomberg once he gets on stage and has to answer some questions. Another rich guy, Tom Steyer, got on the stage and, in my opinion, stunk it up. He showed that having money does not translate into being astute or knowledgeable. We will see how Bloomberg does.
But no matter how he does, the Dems had better understand the rules of the game. Not as they WANT the rules to be, but what the real rules are. And in the US elections money talks. And big money talks big. Money is part of the rules.
No matter what “laws” exist concerning campaign funding, the bottom line is that the Federal Election commission has virtually no enforcement ability. Imagine a football ref who could call a foul but could not enforce a penalty. That is the system under which we live.
Also, Citizens United has made the case that money equals speech. Logically, the more money you have, the more speech you have. So Bloomberg has the biggest mouth in America. Trump is the biggest gasbag, for sure. But Trump’s “wealth” is dwarfed by Mike’s. Minor league.
Back to the rules. The GOP has made it clear that they want no rules. Russian interference? No problem. Ukraine extortion? OK with them. Unregulated cash from (fill in the blanks) is okey-dokey. Those are the REAL rules.
The Trump campaign will flood the TV and internet and Facebook and Twitter with misinformation. Lies. Vulgarity. Coded messages (or not coded) supporting racism, misogyny and xenophobia. The Trump hate machine will be in full force. The gloves are off.
So, the Dems better bring some brass knuckles to the fight. Bloomberg can flood the media, as he has been doing. He has the money and personality to play by the real rules. Nothing to be scared of. He’s a wealthy billionaire plutocrat, but he’s OUR plutocrat. Embrace him. Welcome him. We need him.
We may not like these rules. We may not want these rules. But we better play by these rules. The real rules. Otherwise it will be four or MORE years of attacks on the separation of powers. If we don’t win this election it may very well be the LAST election. If that’s the case we may see the end of democracy. No matter what the written rules say.
So, don’t be afraid of Bloomberg. For too long the Dems have been playing it by the book. Time to throw the book out the window and play to win. Play by the rules.
5 responses to “Playing By The Rules”
This is very well put, Joseph. I think many of us reluctantly agree with you. We must do whatever we can to defeat trump.
I am eager to see Bloomberg on the debate stage. I have said I wish he’d put his large ego aside and fund Amy’s campaign because I do think she’s a uniter and what this country needs. But it will take a small miracle for her to build infrastructure needed to continue her Klomentum.
But I worry about Bloomberg’s viability in the areas where she could be strong: the electoral college states. Will people there accept a self-made billionaire from NY attempting to buy the election? If he doesn’t do well in those primaries, and the moderate left is splintered, Bernie prevails—and though I would vote for him, I’m pretty sure a lot of Americans won’t. Latest Gallup poll confirms this. I try to be optimistic, but we know there will be nothing left if an emboldened, unfettered trump wins a second term.
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Suppose Bloomberg does bring brass knuckles and wins. From then on our presidents may need to be wealthy, electioneering necessarily dirty. Some sports officials may be unfair or lax, but it won’t change the game. Trump will play dirty and perhaps win again. As bad as that may be, it won’t justify throwing out the rule book.
If trump wins again it may be the LAST election you see in your lifetime.
What do you think of Phil Ebersole’s argument for withholding votes from both major parties?
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I read the Ebersole editorial. I think it might have been true before the GOP turned to Trumpism. When you have one political party that has decided that the president is above the law, then you need to support the other parry at all costs. Political purity got us Trump. Political pragmatism can get him out of office.
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