The Preseason

I watched a little bit of a football game in the first round of the preseason last week. I only watched a few minutes because it was boring. I am not enough of a fan to watch a game where no one in the game cares who wins.

The preseason is like that. No one cares who wins. Instead they are taking the important steps of trying out players, testing out strategies, and also very importantly, making sure they don’t risk any injuries that will take them out in the actual season. The preseason is not about winning, it’s about preparing to win when it matters.

At the right time the coaches will shift their efforts into a new gear. They will choose a plan based on the results of all this testing the waters, and then work that plan hoping it will end in victory. For me, the games won’t really hold my interest until the players begin caring about the outcome, when they begin playing to win.

Now some of you will wonder why I am putting this into my column on Monday. Monday is the day that I talk about politics, not sports. So why did I put it in my column now, at the earliest portion of the primary for a presidential campaign?

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Primary Election Day

There are times in the life of a pastor when I get a sudden rush of urgent activity that crowds out all other priorities for a time. This past week was one of those times. Being in a smaller church, I do not preach a lot of funerals. Last week I had two. I mention this as way of explanation for those of you who noticed that several posts I usually make were skipped.  I want to apologize if you were disappointed. I will get back on track as soon as possible. But since I am a working pastor I can almost guarantee it will happen again sooner or later. As long as we are both (both being me the writer and you the reader) willing to accept the realities of an unpredictable life, it will work out alright.

Having said that I want to pretend its yesterday, sort of, and post what might have been yesterday’s post if I had not been otherwise occupied.

 

Voting in the Primary

Today is Election Day here in Arizona. Today we vote in the primary so that the people of Arizona can choose which candidate they want to represent each party. Now in some other places they hold the primary to determine which candidate each party wants to put forth, but that is not how it works here. What is the difference between these two?

In some places only members of the party get to vote for that parties candidates, but here in Arizona, we allow independent voters to vote in the primary. I personally don’t think this is the best idea.

Since this is the case, there is a lot less incentive to be registered with a particular party. In fact, I think it might be preferable for people to not be affiliated and therefore when it comes time to vote they can either vote for the best qualified candidate within the party they most closely align with, or if they prefer they can vote for the least qualified candidate within the party they oppose.

I am pretty sure the law was not put into place with this idea in mind, but it does open up the possibility. In fact, this year I have seen a number of ads emphasizing independent voters can vote in the primary. After listening to the ad I have in mind, for the millionth time, I began to think they were implying this strategy.

So here is my advice. Get out and vote. But first educate yourself on the candidates and their positions. I also want to suggest you vote for candidates you actually want, and not use the vote as means of weakening the opposing party as described above. I don’t think it should be a legal option, and I don’t think it is a morally correct option.

My Hope for the Cantor Loss

One of the more mysterious things to happen in politics this past week was the defeat of House majority Leader, Eric Cantor by relatively unknown, Dave Brat. When the votes were counted, neither Cantor nor Brat were quick to believe the results.

They had been told by polls how the election was going to go. Only this time it didn’t.

They had expected the difference in money spent campaigning to rule the day. Only this time Brat, spent less than $123,000 while Cantor spent almost $5,000,000.

The media believed it had relegated Brat to extinction by marginalizing him as a part of the tea party. But that apparently didn’t have the expected effect.

 

I cannot tell you what really happened in Virginia. But I can choose to see it as a positive.

I find it hopeful that the polls were wrong. Polls have been thoroughly misused, to not only inform the public, but also to shape public opinion. This event may reshape the power of the pollster.

I also find it hopeful that dollars did not rule the day. Dollars winning elections should be an abhorrent thought to all Americans, the idea that we are bought.

I find it hopeful that the public bucked the negative labeling of the press. I believe a media which was doing its job would inform the voting public of the positions of each candidate. Then they could vote, accordingly. Perhaps they will again begin reporting the public opinion instead of trying to shape it.

 

Note on that last point, America and politicians have been told the way to win election is to stay aligned with your political base while winning votes from the moderate middle. But perhaps at some point it can once again be about public service, leadership and maintaining American values and virtues.