Foot­ball vs. Soc­cer Con­trast Sheds Light On Con­gres­sional Base­ball Shoot­ing

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - BASEBALL VS. TERRORISM - MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR THE ENTERPRISELEADER. HE IS A FOR­MER AD­MIN­IS­TRA­TIVE AS­SIS­TANT AND PUB­LIC POL­ICY AD­VI­SOR TO THE BIG HORN COUNTY COM­MIS­SION OF HIS HOME COUNTY OF BIG HORN COUNTY, MONT. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE HIS OWN. Mark Humphrey G

Per­haps, the great­est mir­a­cle ever in sports oc­curred June 14, 2017, in­ter­est­ingly, many Amer­i­cans don’t seem to re­al­ize the full ex­tent to which lives were pro­tected.

A di­a­bol­i­cal plot with in­tent to take lives spilled blood on the base­ball di­a­mond, but was thwarted with­out deaths of any­one ex­cept the shooter when Capi­tol po­lice re­sponded. A gun­man, who had worked on the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Demo­crat Bernie San­ders, opened fire on Repub­li­can law­mak­ers prac­tic­ing for the an­nual Con­gres­sional Base­ball Game for Char­ity ver­sus Democrats. Five peo­ple were wounded dur­ing an at­tack at an Alexan­dria, Va., base­ball di­a­mond: House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.); Capi­tol Hill po­lice agents, Crys­tal Griner and David Bai­ley; Zach Barth, a mem­ber of Con­gress­man Roger Wil­liams’ (R-Texas) staff; and Tyson Foods lob­by­ist Matt Mika.

Dou­ble Mean­ings

In try­ing to un­der­stand the at­tack, per­haps, at this hour in our his­tory, in­sights can be gleaned by us­ing Amer­i­can foot­ball and soc­cer to com­pare and con­trast dis­tinc­tions be­tween a repub­lic and democ­racy as forms of govern­ment.

Soc­cer is re­ferred to as foot­ball in some parts of the world, yet this use of the term fails to dis­tin­guish one sport from the other. Both sports in­volve kick­ing a ball. Most sim­i­lar­i­ties stop there.

Wide­spread use of the term democ­racy to de­scribe merely a pop­u­lar type of govern­ment, fea­tur­ing pe­ri­odic, gen­uine, free elec­tions by the peo­ple, doesn’t ex­plain the dif­fer­ences be­tween a democ­racy and a repub­lic. Democ­racy has a dou­ble mean­ing — as ei­ther a pop­u­lar-type of govern­ment in gen­eral, or as a spe­cific form of govern­ment. This can be con­fus­ing.

Ma­jor­ity Rule vs. In­di­vid­ual Rights

Amer­i­can foot­ball and soc­cer hardly re­sem­ble one an­other. Nei­ther does a govern­ment de­signed as a repub­lic in con­trast to a govern­ment that func­tions as a democ­racy.

Democ­racy fea­tures ma­jor­ity rule and is some­times crit­i­cized for lack of any le­gal safe­guard of the rights of an in­di­vid­ual per­son and the mi­nor­ity. In a repub­lic, rule by ma­jor­ity is limited un­der a writ­ten con­sti­tu­tion that in­cludes safe­guards to main­tain the rights of an in­di­vid­ual and the mi­nor­ity.

Foot­ball and soc­cer pit 11 play­ers from one squad against 11 from an op­pos­ing team with both games played on a rec­tan­gu­lar, green sur­face. Again, dif­fer­ences sep­a­rate the sports. In soc­cer, play­ers may be found of mis­con­duct for charg­ing an op­po­nent, but in foot­ball de­fend­ers are ex­pected to charge the quar­ter­back when a pass is at­tempted.

In a democ­racy, the ma­jor­ity holds ab­so­lute and un­lim­ited power. Ma­jor­ity de­ci­sions can­not be ap­pealed un­der the le­gal sys­tem es­tab­lished to give ef­fect to this form of govern­ment, which con­tains a vul­ner­a­bil­ity in that tyranny could be in­sti­tuted by mob rule.

Jef­fer­son’s View

Dur­ing the United States Con­sti­tu­tion con­ven­tion of 1787, de­bates con­demned the “ex­cesses of democ­racy” and abuses un­der any democ­racy of the un­alien­able rights of an in­di­vid­ual by the ma­jor­ity.

Thomas Jef­fer­son warned against this type of govern­ment op­er­at­ing in the Vir­ginia state leg­is­la­ture in his Notes On The State of Vir­ginia (1781-1782): “All the pow­ers of govern­ment, leg­isla­tive, ex­ec­u­tive, ju­di­ciary, re­sult to the leg­isla­tive body. The con­cen­trat­ing these in the same hands is pre­cisely the def­i­ni­tion of despotic govern­ment. It will be no al­le­vi­a­tion that these pow­ers will be ex­er­cised by a plu­ral­ity of hands, and not by a sin­gle one, 173 despots would surely be as op­pres­sive as one.”

In other words, an elected state leg­is­la­ture could gov­ern unchecked in the same man­ner as the Bri­tish rule, which the colonists fought a war to dis­pose if safe­guards such as a bal­ance of pow­ers weren’t put into ef­fect. Thus, the framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States set up a repub­lic form of govern­ment with clearly-de­fined sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers.

Adams’ Commentary

John Adams wrote, ne­glect could lead a repub­lic to de­te­ri­o­rate into a lesser form of govern­ment such as democ­racy (govern­ment con­ducted by pop­u­lar feel­ing); anarchy (sys­tem in which each per­son de­ter­mines his own rules and stan­dards); oli­garchy (govern­ment run by a small coun­cil or a group of elite in­di­vid­u­als); or dic­ta­tor­ship (govern­ment run by a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual); and that, “…that ev­ery man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man’s life or prop­erty or rep­u­ta­tion or Lib­erty will be se­cure, and ev­ery one of these will soon mould it­self into a sys­tem of sub­or­di­na­tion of all the moral virtues and in­tel­lec­tual abil­i­ties, all the pow­ers of wealth, beauty, wit, and sci­ence, to the wan­ton plea­sures, the capri­cious will, and the ex­e­crable [abom­inable] cru­elty of one or a very few.”

This is the strug­gle go­ing on to­day. Cit­i­zens will ei­ther pledge al­le­giance “to the Repub­lic, one na­tion un­der God, in­di­vis­i­ble, with lib­erty and jus­tice for all;” or try to cir­cum­vent and re­write the laws which gov­ern this land.

Whether com­pet­ing in base­ball, bas­ket­ball, foot­ball, soc­cer or any other sport, both teams agree to play by the same set of rules; which is some­thing each Amer­i­can will do well to re­mem­ber as we pre­pare to cel­e­brate our na­tion’s birth­day.

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