American politics is really pretty simple. One can distill the American political experience into a singular, collegiate athletic series, historically played at the end of the year by two of the country’s most-storied football programs, Michigan and Ohio, alternately in Ann Arbor or Columbus, respectively.
If you’re a Michigan partisan, you could lose every game for the rest of the season. The only thing that matters is defeating the Buckeyes at the end of the year in the Big House.
If you pull for Ohio State, who cares about the detritus of Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa. But all is forgiven if OSU topples the Wolverines at the Horseshoe under grey skies of late November.
Kids may pick a team based on how cool the uniforms look. Some people here in Washington fell in love with Cincinnati Bengals as children, transfixed by the team’s striped helmets.
Others gravitated toward the Seattle Seahawks and their forest green/royal blue get-ups, circa Jim Zorn/Efren Herrera. But mostly, people cheer for teams just because they’re nearby. There is no other logic.
It is said all politics is local. But sports has that beat. People just instinctively root for the local teams. There’s often little logical explanation.
This brings us to American politics. Everyone just picks a side. You like ObamaCare or not?
How about the Republican tax bill? Hillary Clinton or President Trump?
Should Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore stay in the race? Or should there be swift justice instead for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.? Each of them face accusations of sexual misconduct.
This is where things grow more complicated.
But how many people have sided with either Michigan or Ohio State — just because they are fans of either school.
Some Republicans will back Moore simply because it’s believed he will serve as a reliable GOP vote to help execute President Trump’s agenda. Tax reform? Check. Supreme Court nominees? Check. Oppose abortion? Check.
What about those decades-old allegations?
Yes. But some in the GOP argue that the party needs Moore’s vote to advance tax reform. Moore faces Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special general election for the Senate seat of former GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions.
And by the way, what about this revisionism now among some feminists and others who are now questioning their support for former President Bill Clinton when Republicans impeached him nearly two decades ago?
Are you Michigan or Ohio State?
Think Moore deserves due process? Firm critics don’t, which shows side-picking even within political parties.
But those out to get Moore want to show him the door even before he arrives in Washington. Yet when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared last week on NBC that Conyers deserves “due process,” the same voices who support Moore excoriate the California Democrat.
Hail to the Victors? Or Script Ohio?
Remember when Republicans used to torch Pelosi for infamously proclaiming: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it” when it came to ObamaCare. The GOP still howl about that one as Democrats circled the wagons.
Then Democrats were all up in arms when House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., suggested that voters would side with Republicans once congressional GOP-ers usher their tax bill across the finish line.
And if you’re a Michigan fan, you probably loved that Ohio State canned coach Woody Hayes after he cold-cocked the Clemson linebacker in the 1978 Gator Bowl.
Democrats made few inroads into Republicans’ House majority in 2016. Then they failed to claim a single win in several special elections earlier this year.
To be fair, the contests heavily favored the GOP. Still, Democrats thought they might at least escape with one or two victories.
They lost in Kansas for the open seat of GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, who left Congress to become the CIA director. Then came the loss in Montana, even after GOP candidate Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter, followed losses in South Carolina and Georgia.
The losses ignited a furor among Democrats, with some questioning the leadership of Pelosi.
Kind of like Michigan fans calling out coach Jim Harbaugh after his third consecutive loss to the scarlet and gray.
But Harbaugh still has job. So does Pelosi.
Deficits? Well, Republicans lit into Democrats for years over exploding deficits. But when it comes to tax reform, many Republicans are now willing to concede at least $1.5 trillion in deficit spending due to tax reform – with the hope that economic growth will pull the country out of the red.
Republicans certainly didn’t say that when congressional Democrats pushed for an economic stimulus package under President Barack Obama after the financial collapse of 2008.
This is all very simple.
This could be Michigan/Ohio State. Auburn/Alabama. UCLA/USC. Yankees/Red Sox. Giants/Dodgers. Maple Leafs/Canadians. Argentina/Brazil.
Pick your sport. And pick your side.