Monday, April 24, 2006

Low ball

by Andrew Swift, DI editorial writer

Washington tradition has taken a hit. The Congressional Softball League is due to open its season this week, with a glaring exception: the vast majority of the Republicans.

The 37-year-old league, composed of congressional aides, had been run in the spirit of bipartisanship. Indeed, left and right ballplayers alike often headed to postgame celebrations at local bars.

But that's all changed. A large number of GOP squads left the league following last season after asserting that the playoff system is socialistic. One GOP hurler wrote to Commissioner Gary Caruso that the league "is all about Softball Welfare - aiding the weak by punishing the strong." BoehnerLand Coach Gary Mahmoud wrote, "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" The aptly named squad represents House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

I'm almost too befuddled to comment. Partisan politics have no damn business in a congressional-aide softball league. The whole affair is downright silly. But, on a serious note, the young rightists' action brings to light an interesting phenomenon evident on both sides of the aisle.

Pundits love to spin America into separate entities, namely red and blue states. Increasingly, both party leadership and base are observing the opposing party as an "other." This has potentially severe consequences. "Others" have been used throughout history by political leaders and tyrants to shore up support, often through using violent tactics. If Republicans can't even manage to play softball with the left anymore (and they sure as hell won't try to cooperatively legislate with Democrats), then America could be headed to trouble.

If you need reminder, the name of this country is the United States of America. Too much "othering," and soon we'll find our country not so united after all.

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