A Time for Political "Sportsmanship"!
I recently submitted a column to the Ketchikan, Alaska SitNews site, which I would like to share with you regarding sportsmanship and what we can learn from our children and from Soccer.
"December 29, 2006
I learned a lot about sportsmanship watching my son and daughters play soccer. I recall the first time I saw a player injured on the team that didn't have possession of the ball and the team that did have the ball intentionally kick the ball out of bounds to stop the clock and allow medical assistance on the field. After that, the opposing team, in a sense of fair-play would throw the ball back in to the team that had the ball in the first place--their opponents. Even in soccer, winning wasn't everything. From time to time players and teams would know that the health of a player was of greater importance than winning at that moment.
Why is it then that we as adults cannot learn from soccer players a little bit of political sportsmanship when one of our leaders is injured or is suffering from a life-threatening illness?
Recently Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, a Democrat, suffered from an intra-cranial hemorrhage due to a congenital malformation of the blood vessels in his brain. Speculation has been rampant about the possibility of him dying or resigning and then the Governor, who for South Dakota, Mike Rounds, is a Republican, would have the opportunity of appointing a fellow Republican shifting the power of the Senate back to the Republican Party--all on the basis of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Coincidentally, a Republican Senator also is dealing with a life-threatening illness that was discovered after the November election. Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming was discovered to have Acute Myelogenous Leukemia shortly after the most recent November election. This possibly fatal disease would also result in the Democratic Governor of Wyoming, David Freudenthal, having the opportunity of shifting power towards the Democrats if in the event of Thomas' death or resignation, he needed to appoint a replacement.
Is this what Democracy is about? That we should ever be interested in the demise of an elected official so that our political party might advance their influence? Should we ever permit a system that discourages an individual suffering with disease to stay in office just to preserve his or her party's power in government?
It is time for a little political sportsmanship. Whenever any elected official, regardless of their political persuasion, takes ill, we should all be wishing for the speedy recovery of that person and should never be speculating about the effects of their demise. If they are a Democrat, let's replace them with a Democrat; same if they are Republican. Let them know that they may not worry about the political effect of their illness; there won't be any political gain or loss associated with Cancer, or Stroke, heart attack, or auto accident.
Let us take the ghoulish out of American politics today! Let us learn from our children and our sportsmen. Whenever an opposing political player is injured or ill, let the party with the 'ball' feel free to kick it out of bounds, knowing that the party who regains the ball will once again return it to the other side. Care of the injured, and concern about the well-being of our leaders is more important than political gain.
America can do better! And it is time for our leaders to learn that lesson.
There have been those in America who choose to spend time destroying the men and women who seek higher office who do not share their particular political views. Attacks have been made quite successfully against Senator Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, and more recently, against Senator Hillary Clinton.
Many of us have chosen to "blame the victim", instead of dealing with this insidious development in American politics today. We assume something is indeed wrong with these people; we are easily convinced that we shouldn't support people like this, instead searching for somebody who can be "elected".
I reject these false assumptions.
America needs greatness in leadership. We cannot allow our political opponents to define who we are and determine our choice of leaders.
Senator Kerry continues to be the most qualified of all of the potential candidates in the Democratic field for President. He thus receives the greatest level of attacks from his opponents who try to bury him under the mud.
Kerry has walked through mud before. He has been decorated in combat going through the mud of Vietnam. He has the strength and the determination to make an outstanding President. But he cannot do it alone.
Do not accept the dictates of our political opponents who will part the sea to allow the least electable among the Democrats to advance. Stand with Senator Kerry.
America needs new leadership now more than ever.