"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Thursday, October 20, 2005

In Defense of Partisanship

I wrote another piece for my local paper, this time defending partisanship. I hoped that I'd have a more stirring call to action (Go Cards!), but by the time it was published, the Astros had already won the series. Congrats to them, and wait 'til next year (the perennial sports fan motto)!

In Defense of Partisanship

I am a partisan. I have a team, and I support it through thick and thin. I never want my side to cheat, but I won't turn down a lucky win my team really didn't deserve.

I'm sure my team is better than the other team, even when we haven't won for a while. My heart sinks when my team loses and soars when my team wins. I am a partisan — who will always have a happy memory of Albert Pujols' home run Monday night.

Partisanship has a bad reputation these days. Its political connotation implies a sort of pack mentality that discards ethical considerations in the quest for power. But political partisanship is similar to allegiance to a sports franchise. Both involve deep loyalty and kinship with unexpected allies. While particular people come and go as the public face of the team, the devotion is aimed at an ideal rather than any particular cast of characters.

This peculiar dedication to the spirit of a team is a remarkably stabilizing influence. In a decade, a team roster can be completely different, and political stars can blaze, then fade away. Yet loyalties linger for a long time, outlasting scores of disappointments and trades and even a few perceived betrayals.

Seeing the continuing developments in Iraq makes me newly appreciative of partisanship. In these amazing times, we are seeing a people who are learning how to be loyal to new, unfamiliar concepts. They're trying to form associations based on common beliefs, interests, principles and goals. Instead of clustering around particular people based on charisma or fear or family connections, these brave Iraqis are trying out the dynamic mix of cooperation and competition that comprises partisanship.

It is a new and dangerous road these men and women travel, and it will be a long time before they have the luxury of regarding "partisanship" as a dirty word. But it is another indication of the amazing experiment that is the United States that we can get bored with deciding issues through argument and persuasion and bickering instead of using murder and destruction as political tools as the last-ditch Iraqi rebel thugs do.

Take a moment to appreciate the system that lets us advance our ideas and celebrate our teams without violence and danger. And root for your team, win or lose!