Baseball Cure for Uncivil Politics

David Broder has an amusing column this morning ascribing the decline in civility in D.C. politics to the absence of a professional baseball team:

What has been missed by most of the historians and political scientists is the fact that political conditions in Washington began to decline in 1971, the year the baseball Senators decamped for Texas and became the Rangers.

Baseball was the tonic that soothed Washington’s nerves. After a hard day in the Senate, members on opposite sides of the foreign aid bill debate could repair to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, 22 blocks away, knock back a few beers and watch Frank Howard pound the stuffing out of the ball. By the same token, disgruntled bureaucrats, bloody from fighting to save their pet programs from the fiscal surgeons in the Bureau of the Budget, could sit in the stands and enjoy the sight of Camilo Pascual baffling the Yankees with his curveball. That tonic has been missing from Washington lo these many years, and look at the mess we are in. The city and its resident politicians now fixate on football’s Redskins, who play only eight home games a year — and in one of the ugliest stadiums ever constructed, with no certainty except that the traffic will be maddening on the way in and worse on the way out. And you wonder why the atmosphere is poisoned by anger and frustration.


Baseball is the sovereign remedy for what ails our government. It teaches respect for the rules — especially since the Expos/Nationals are National Leaguers, playing a game uncontaminated by the abomination known as the designated-hitter rule. Furthermore, baseball is a slow game. A single contest lasts three hours, a season six months. It focuses your mind on long-term goals: the playoffs, the Series. It accustoms you to errors. It cushions the pain of losses. It provides heartwarming comebacks. It teaches patience. (Especially to those of us who have been Cubs fans.) All these lessons apply directly to politics.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.