Old Diary

Politics in an Adversarial Society

The U.S. is a sports-crazy nation.  We seem to love the idea that “our” team is always supposed to beat the “other” team — whomever they might be.

Our legal system is an adversarial system.  We aren’t concerned with justice,  we are concerned that everyone has a right to a legal defense.  It matters not whether they committed a crime; it only matters whether they were found guilty in a court of law — not a court of justice.

Out of a total of 435 U.S. Representatives and 100 Senators (535 total in Congress), lawyers comprise the biggest voting block of one type, making up 43% of Congress. Sixty percent of the U.S. Senate is lawyers. There are 81 Republicans in Congress who list “lawyer” as their profession.
— Quora

Congress is no longer representative of this nation.  Not when almost half of the members there are from a single profession.  And the law is not a profession that is well known for compassion for the helpless.  The law caters to those who can afford to pay for it’s services.  And pay handsomely,  or should we say “outrageously.”

I remember a time when we could speak about statesmen in Congress / government. I don’t think I’ve heard that term used about anyone in well over a decade.  Perhaps two decades.  As sports have taken over an increasing part of U.S. cultural life we have grown to accept the idea that winning is the only thing that matters.  We celebrate those who win — and we seem not to care about those who lose.

No wonder we haven’t got a Congress that works.  The people there aren’t interested in helping the people back home; they are interested in keeping their job, and the way to do that is to spend 5 hours (on average) of every working day raising funds for their next campaign.  The way you keep your job is to suck up to the donors who will give you enough money to buy the ads and do the things that will get you elected.

Government ought to be about deliberation.  That is, multiple people need to sit down together and brainstorm what the problems are, offer solutions, test why various solutions either won’t work, or will generate new and more difficult problems, and then to work out practical plans that can be put into action for the benefit of the greatest number of people.  But that’s not what’s happening in 2019.  In fact, that hasn’t been what has been happening for the last 2 decades.  One party or another has done whatever they were able to prevent the other party from getting their way about… well, just about anything.  And as a result we have 20 years (or more) worth of problems that are piling up, and up and up.  The only thing we seem able to do is to send young men and women off to war.  We can always find money and motive to do that.

When I first starting thinking about the role sports and our adversarial legal system have impacted government I thought I might try to do a far more detailed and reasoned blog — but you know, that would be a waste of time.  As long as the football games are running on the usual channels, and our favorite players are healthy, we don’t have time to think all that much about the little details like poverty, racism, or environment — pass me another beer and a brat, I’m thinking too much.

Oh, look at that pass…..