Sunday, February 05, 2006

Of Politics and Hockey

I hesitate to even think this, much less write it down, because it feels sacriligious. Comparing Hockey and Politics. Not something one should do...but I'm doing it anyway.

The analogy is there, begging to be noticed. Politics is a lot like hockey. Not politics everywhere, but at least in the U.S. We don't have a multi-party, mixed aportionment system, or a complex system with a President and Prime Minister. We have two parties. Hockey games have two team. Every 2 years they step onto the electoral rink for a game of political hockey. Keep reading, the analogy has more to it than that statement of the obvious.

If you have spent any time watching college or professional hockey you'll recognize a few common elements on each hockey team. I don't just mean positions like center, wing, defenseman, goalie. But roles as well. Every successful team has goal-scorers, play-makers, a coach, a captain, and a couple of "enforcers."

Goal Scorers are the guys who always find a way to get the puck into the net. Play makers are the people who can get the puck to the goal scorer at just the right time, and in just the right place, to make the scoring chance happen. The coach is the person in charge. He sets the strategy, determines which players on his team should play against which players on the other team. He lays down the law, and people do what needs to be done for the good of the team. The captain is the spritual leader of the team; his job is to make sure each player stays focused on his job and that the team works together. The enforcers are the big guys. You have them around to make sure nothing happens to the goal scorers. They might not be the best skaters, passers, defensemen or scorers, but having them around helps ensure that no one takes cheap-shots at your best players--otherwise the enforcers are going to have a mission.

A good hockey game is one between two teams who both have all these roles filled with people gifted at their role, and who are working in synch.

Similarly, a good political system is one in which both competing factions have each of the roles filled with talented and engaged people who know what part they are playing, and are coordinated in accomplishing their task. The political system in the U.S. today is not a good game. The Republicans have done a fantastic job of recruiting and promoting people to fill these positions, while Democrats have followed the principle of "everyone do what makes you happy".

Here's what I mean.
The Republican Roleplayers:
Goal Scorer (though he's been in a recent slump): The President
Play Makers: House and Senate Republicans
Coach: Karl Rove; the RNC
Captain: Religious Conservatives
Enforcers: Talk radio

By contrast, I can't name a single role the Democrats have filled. It's not a team so much as a tryout. There is no cohesion, and no unifying ethos amongst them. Instead they are all attempting to prove that they should make the team--execpt it's an expansion team, so there is no one to help guide them along the way.

Can someone go make the Democrats into a good hockey team? I'm tired of watching blow outs.


Scubes said...

As a Canadian, I like this analogy.

(comment from random blog surfer)

pip said...

Hey buddy-- Eric, aka barrister, told me about your blog! Now we can be bloggies. ahem. (blog buddies)