Richard Nixon had a tendency to revert to baseball when he was sick of politics.
Hunter Thompson used this, as a writer who knew his purpose was writing about the intersections of culture and society and politics, the latter of which he’d been barred from for being, ahem, uncouth.
But Pres. Nixon agreed to an interview with Thompson, despite the two’s disparaging worldviews. The compromise: we’re talking about sports only; baseball in particular.
The game was on. Each knew the other, in a way. Biases existed, but common ground was found, simply in order to spread the message and provide access.
Somewhere, Nixon’s lesson in communications was lost on subsequent generations of politicians. That even if you abso-FUCKIN-lutely cannot stand a motherfucker, it’s your job as a candidate for President to try and be accessible to everybody.
So, an idea has occurred. People of Earth, you can have this one for free.
Ted Cruz, take a step back, we know you’re not from here.
We need to start doing political commentary the same way we do for sports – play-by-play actions where real-world statistics (that can be verified on the spot) are placed alongside the color – the context – and people can know without a doubt WTF is going on.
I have no doubt that had Thompson survived through today, he might have said something similar. Christopher Hitchens may have agreed, although it’s a hard line trying to put words in anyone’s mouths, let alone the mouths of dead men. But, they did know one another, and may have even agreed on certain issues. That’s another tough thing to say, since the only time it appears that their communications crossed paths was in Hitchens’ introduction of Ancient Gonzo Wisdom, a collection of Thompson’s interviews.
However, let’s just imagine this for a second.
Play-by-play commentary on every last goddamn thing these miserable fuckwits do after they declare their candidacies. It would come in most handy in debates, but would be extremely useful in pressers, for Executive Orders, and whenever that good ol’ fashioned Russian Whataboutism comes around.
I’m using Hitchens and Thompson as placeholders here, which is a useful hypothetical as they’re both dead, were effective communicators, knew the topics at-hand, and were unafraid to call out shenanigans when they saw it.
Since I’m sure you think of yourselves, incorrectly, as learned individuals, I’m sure you’ll substitute your own people here. And, being the peasants that you are you’ll try and substitute in people of completely opposite views, like Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity.
This is foolish, and showcases your childish understanding of all things.
What’s needed are people who may or may not get along, but can professionally do so in the course of their work, which is done through the application of their complementary perspectives.
Here, the mostly-somber tone of Hitchens, which can delve into the historical, philosophical and religious undertones, can be matched by Thompson’s disregard for customs and courtesies, and political, counter-cultural (and sporting) intuitions. Their combined knowledge on cultural pitfalls and literary backgrounds would provide common ground that might bridge the gap normally keeping these two from working the same venue.
This is an easy enough concept. Every one of… those people… has a verifiable record, creating a path of statistical behavior that provides a foundation for the commentary. That verifiable side of things is the science of it, the part of the main commentator. The other side, the artful side of things, is carried forward by the so-called color man,the guy who provides a running colorful display of language in line with the players on the field.
Polling is already treated as if it’s a sporting affair, with bookies taking bets on who has what chances to win. The contest of politics itself has become overly-burdened with its own fetishization of Politics as a Zero-Sum game: If one is to win, one is to lose.
So, if we’re to treat every American political election like the combination of the Stanley Cup, the Superbowl, the World Cup, the Summer Olympics, the Heavyweight Boxing Championship Bout, The Mint 400, the Lower Oakland Roller Derby Finals, and the World Curling Championships (ya’ll motherfuckers scoffing right now need to get the fuck out ya houses), then we should start calling them like it.
We can have the somber commentary, the historically-verifiable statistics and voting records delivered by the main commentator. And, we can have the entertainment demanded by the masses, delivered by the commentary ridiculing the whole lot of if by the color man.
We’ve already allowed the situation to be hijacked by partisans in the name of Zero Sum winning; allowed a Reality TV show character to take the reins; and tried not to laugh at the whole goddamn thing.
It’s time for a new type of language for politics, and our answer comes from the sporting world.
Just not from Barstool sports. They’re probably about to be going through a bit of a transitional period.