To understand how teams in opposition work I only need to consult my twelve year old self. That was the year I became a baseball fanatic, both as a player and a fan. I was living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and it was 1968 and the Detroit Tigers were the talk of the town.
Back then I had no trouble recognizing that I had a team bias. Every out called against my team was a crime. Every out called against the opposition team was a reason for celebration. But we only carried it so far. We may have hated the opposition in some abstract sense, but we all knew what the rules were and we all played by those rules.
We also understood that the umpire was the guy in the middle. Despite the jokes about his needing glasses we all acknowledged that the umpire was a man to be respected because he genuinely tried to see the unbiased truth in every play.
That’s what we called fair play — and everybody understood, even if they didn’t want to admit it, that we all played by the rules. No one would have seriously questioned that. When we lost a game we knew the reasons why we lost, but we never questioned that we lost.
No opposing team ever arrived at the playing field intending to disrupt the game. No team I ever played against ever tried to change the score in their favour when nobody was looking. They never moved or hid first base. They didn’t cheat and then try to disqualify another player with false accusations of cheating.
Had they done so we would have never given them the satisfaction of calling them a team. We would have called them cheaters. We would have thrown them off the playing field. We would have refused to ever play them again.
I think you see where I’m going with this. It’s too bad that my 12 year old sensibilities are out of vogue today. Today the talking heads in the mainstream media speak about “both sides.” They speak of “far right” and “far left” as if there was some kind of rational equivalence between the two, as if they were two sides to the same coin.
It’s a case where labels have played us false. Analysts use labels like “radical right” and “radical left” as if they are interchangeable ends of a continuum when they are clearly not. The radical right is represented by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene. The so-called radical left is represented by people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But they are not opposites. They are not even members of the same species.
When I was 12 and playing baseball a member of the “radical left” was just called a radical. They were often in favour of violent and sudden change, change brought about by violent means. While their goals were sometimes good their methods were extreme and immoral. More moderate voices, like that of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, were the respectable voices of reason in the middle.
There is nothing extreme or immoral or violent about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She wants healthcare for everyone. She wants equal pay and equal treatment for women, for minorities, for members of the LGBTQ+. She wants to save the planet for future generations. She wants democracy, not fascism.
What does Marjorie Taylor Greene want? Guns, hatred, fascism. She wants a man named Trump to be president for life. She wants an end to the Constitution.
There is no rational middle here. On the one hand there is the Republican Party, a party that has stopped believing in elections when they lose them. They want to make it difficult or even impossible for certain Americans to even vote.
On the other hand there are the Democrats who want to serve their constituents, uphold the rule of law and promote democracy. Each is not representative of opposite ends of a continuum. The day Republicans decided to tear down America’s democracy and replace it with fascism is the day they stopped playing by the rules. It was the day they should have been thrown off the playing field and stripped of their right to call themselves a team.
Today Republicans are nothing more than a cult of Trump. For instance, one Republican candidate for president, Vivek Ramaswamy, actually said that Donald Trump is the greatest president of the 21st century. If he believes that then why is he running against him?
Ramaswamy also said that America won the revolutionary war against the British because of the Constitution. The American revolution ended in 1783. The Constitution was written in 1787. Yet Ramaswamy also insists America should institute a civics test for voters, a test he would clearly fail.
That is what “radical right” politicians are today, unserious idiots raising their angry voices about bullshit. We should stop giving them a seat at the table.
My 12 year old self saw clearly what a lot of folks in the mainstream media are missing today. There is no such thing as the far right and the far left any longer. There are only Republicans pretending to care and Democrats working for the betterment of America. Let’s stop pretending Republicans are players on an opposing team and start treating them like what they are. Traitors. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.