Opinion: American Politics Has Become a Blood Sport

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Donald Trump shows his reaction to the sound of Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s voice. Photo by Chris Stone

By Colleen O'Connor

Politics is no longer a spectator sport. Or one confined to insiders, professionals and the shadowy practitioners of the dark arts.

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It has become a blood sport. Much like bare knuckle boxing or cage fighting before the Queensbury Rules were introduced England in 1865.

The Queensberry Rules dictated that a boxer “must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules.”

One rule in particular seems appropriate this election year.

Rule 5—A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.

Sounds reasonable.

Yet, who determines that? Who drops the foul flag and when? Special Counsel Robert Muller? The Republican Congress? The conservative-dominated Supreme Court? The embattled press? Or the alienated voters? Who decides?

Evidence suggests the need for a great, tough and respected referee.

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In this corner, wearing the color of authority, we have a President who has made over 3,000 “false or misleading claims” and tweeted even more. Often without evidence, but smartly enough to dominate the news cycles with more cruelty and dubious accusations than thought possible.

His fans cheer, jeer, rant, rave and rally in the thousands. He is their vengeful angel. Targeting everything they fear. Finally, someone is listening to them and slugging back.

In the other corner, we have reticence. A competitor who hopes the tweet storms will pass, the accusations diminish and the “facts” speak for themselves. And that the President will simply melt down, break the basic rules of civility and expose himself as a danger to democracy. Then his crowd will surely turn on him.

So far, that has not happened. And “fake news” is now mainstream. Never mind the misleading political ads and the manipulation of social media.

Enter the “greatest referee of all time,” Pierluigi Collina, who sees the danger on more than just the brutal world soccer fields.

“Society has changed,” he says. “Authority comes not with who you are anymore but what you do. Now you have to prove you deserve your authority, you have to earn it. You are not respected just because you are a judge or a doctor anymore.”

Or a President.

In politics, the ultimate referee is now the voter. Those who show up win. Those who stay home don’t count.

That electoral decision — not the occupant of an office, a special counsel, the Queensbury Rules, or even the U.S. Constitution — will decide.

It rests—appropriately—In the hands of the electorate. And if the recent polls are any indication, “Trump’s reelection bid begins in a hole.”

Just 36 percent say they would vote to reelect the president in 2020, compared with 44 percent who would pick a generic Democrat.

However, it is early days yet. The 2018 general election is months away. Even the unimaginable remains a real possibility. Chaos and gridlock could reign indefinitely.

Or a stealth shock attack — as is possible in California.

The best shot for the reticent Democrats to pick up Congressional seats needed to win back the House centers on California, where they face a real “trump” card — the Carl DeMaio gas tax repeal initiative.

If you have pumped your own gas recently, you are probably among the 51 percent of California voters now favoring repeal of the 12-cent a gallon state-mandated hike.

That one issue has not only fueled Trump-backed, Republican multi-millionaire,John Cox into a possible run-off slot in the governor’s race, but, could also “drive turnout especially among conservative voters. His slogan: “Give Voters A Choice.”

Which side is “hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down” now rests with the decision of thw voters. Unless hanging chads — again — enter the ring.

Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.

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