As the world surely knows by now, Washington DC’s baseball team has won the World Series, a feat not accomplished since 1924. If you watched any of the games (except the three the Nationals lost), it was a come from behind win each time. Just getting to the Series was a struggle that required a rise from the bottom of the pile to get to the Mount Everest of sports. Obviously, I put baseball ahead of football. In fact, I honestly would prefer to watch a cricket match rather than football.
Baseball is a unique sport because of its rules. A game has no time limit; it can go past nine innings until there is a winner. That’s one of the written rules. Then there was the rule used by an umpire in Game 6 who called a Nationals runner out for interfering with at first baseman who couldn’t catch a ball without getting in the way of the runner. Had this happened during a European soccer match, I doubt the official would have survived the stampede of the mob. But it happened in America, so the stadium fans booed and the Nationals manager was ejected for arguing too strenuously.
Then there are the unwritten rules, established by tradition and enforced by the players. For example, if one team thinks the other side’s pitcher has intentionally thrown a pitch to hit its batter, it will find a way to retaliate. During the World Series, a Houston Astros batter hit a home run and carried his bat with him as he rounded the first base. He was roundly criticized by fans and players for showing off.
Our Founders created a system of government that has rules that we call laws, but it also was based on principles of freedom and equality. The form of government is based on the people electing representatives. The Founders weren’t naïve. They didn’t want a monarchy or dictatorship, but they knew, human nature being subject to greed, power and other sleazy influences, they had to put checks and balances on a President having too much power by giving Congress and the judicial branch powers to guard against abuses that undermined democracy. There’s one more element of this grand experiment that’s equally essential to its success. They put their faith in the ability of the public as the final guarantor representative government would survive in the future.
In this current political climate, we have lost sight of our nation’s traditions. The President tells lies that go beyond what even a cynic would say is the norm for politicians, but there are no repercussions. Members of Congress from his party don’t criticize him for fear they will be the victims of a well-funded party apparatus he controls unleashing the orchestrated wrath of tens of thousands of automated texts and robocalls, just as is happening in the offices of his opponents in the House of Representatives right now. It’s like having a king with his court of toadies and enforcers who are running this country.
Our standards for what was not acceptable for previous presidents like Nixon and Clinton have slid so far that this President asking the leader of a foreign country to help him get re-elected doesn’t cause our nonpartisan condemnation. The fact that he won’t release his tax returns should tell any citizen that he doesn’t want us to know something that we ought to know. This president makes Nixon look like a saint.
If you watched the World Series, you saw a lot of joy and enthusiasm among the players, but tradition is very important to baseball so there’s no slam-dunking the basketball into the net and no skipping across the goal line. There’s a Commissioner of Major League Baseball to enforce the written rules, but it’s the players and fans who are the ultimate enforcers of the sport.
As the Lorax said: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”