Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baseball and Politics

I have to say that I wasn't surprised to see that the Yankee-Red Sox game tuned in almost twice as many viewers on Sunday night than the Democratic national debate on CNN. When it comes to things that are authentically American, it doesn't get much more
purely nationalistic than baseball and politics. And baseball, it seems, will always win.

Thinking along these terms, imagine what would happen if Election Day were held on the same day as Game 7 of the World Series. I actually think the rise of nationalistic pride might actually increase voter turnout. Well, most likely not, but it'd be an interesting situation to watch unfold. Or, god forbid, you vote from the ballparks!

The fact that the debates were only Democrats in the thick of an early primary race contributed to the low viewership. If it was an open debate that included Republicans as well I imagine the numbers would have been a bit higher. However...
Democrats need not be completely discouraged. Ratings for the debate were up from the previous one in South Carolina and telecast on MSNBC. That one was seen in 1.68 million homes and attracted 2.26 million viewers on April 26.
And of course the post-debate analysis wasn't going to hold up to "The Sopranos" one of the most successful cable shows of our time.

Of course it'd be great if more Americans were tuning into the debates and the political world in general. Afterall, our democracy is rooted on the idea of strong civic participation -- unfortunately, most folks only make time to vote once every four years and watch a few last minute news conferences to make their decision. And, why? Well, because in the end it doesn't really matter to most people. I think the average person doesn't feel the effects of whomever is elected to the White House. In the end, its just another position that doesn't really impact my everyday life.

But is it? It is not just the President you are electing when you vote every four years. You're also electing (via the President's decision) a cabinet full of dedicated people that work in specific sectors of our government, economy and culture. You're also electing everyone that they the end you're adding your voice and opinion to a position that's power trickles down into all of our lives. On the surface it may look meaningless and unconnected to your daily life but it indirectly affects everything we do. And, yes it's what keeps some power in the hands of the people of this country -- that alone is enough to drive me to the polls for even the most local election.

But baseball rules. It is part of our national identity. One of my favorite quotes from George F. Will sums it up nicely:
Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.
Go Sox.

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