The Seattle Seahawks defense demonstrated that the most sophisticated offensive minds cannot outperform dedicated, intelligent defense at the highest levels of competition. The Republican Party faces the same challenge that overwhelmed Peyton Manning this past Sunday. The 2014 election season features a confident, assured Barack Obama who gained the most substantial political achievements in two generations during his first two years in office. As his most recent State of the Union Address indicated, President Obama is playing a long game of strategic politics that stretches far after his final speech in 2017.
The President presented a moderate agenda emphasizing his position at the center of the political spectrum as a reasonable arbiter against the excesses among both his opponents and his allies. This approach intends to disarm his most vocal critics and to empower conservative congressional Democratic candidates in rural and suburban districts across the nation. Disengagement from the process over the next six months is the enemy of both parties’ attempts to capture the public imagination. Democrats and Republicans alike should consider linking the election cycles to the sports entertainment calendars. Primary season would overlap with the NBA and NHL playoffs. Cross-promotions between the broad, casual engagement with sports and the serious, sustained analysis of politics may re-energize public debate at the municipal and state levels, especially.
Through the summer, the redundant political attack advertisements could be replaced by series of short presentations that link candidate’s messages to the wide variety of entertainment presented by MLB, NASCAR, and the PGA. The positive association with the experiences of competition holds the potential to bring wider audiences back to the discussions that shape the conditions of their lives. Increased public engagement would dovetail with millions of summer jobs and vacations, driving a more informed discourse into the period following Labor Day.
As autumn approaches and Election Day nears, this energized population could connect the fantasy football debates so prevalent among NFL fans to the most qualified candidates and policies for school board, planning agencies, and state judges. This model for sustained excellence in citizenship and politics represents the most fundamental promise of democracy. Only popular leadership has the capacity to end dysfunctional governance at both the state and federal levels. Reforms for the tax code, immigration policy, and the solvency of Social Security are all possible, if voters become excited and stay engaged.
The passion and purpose of a free people is not reserved for recreational activities. Instead of just a Super Bowl 2015, Americans may celebrate their first “State of the Union” Bowl next year. It would be the beginning of a revitalized society for the next generation.