Cross-posted on John Kerry for President 2008
I learned a lot about sportsmanship watching my son and daughters play soccer. I recall the first time I saw a player injured on the team that didn’t have possession of the ball and the team that did have the ball intentionally kick the ball out of bounds to stop the clock and allow medical assistance on the field. After that, the opposing team, in a sense of fair-play would throw the ball back in to the team that had the ball in the first place–their opponents. Even in soccer, winning wasn’t everything. From time to time players and teams would know that the health of a player was of greater importance than winning at that moment.
Why is it then that we as adults cannot learn from soccer players a little bit of political sportsmanship when one of our leaders is injured or is suffering from a life-threatening illness?
Recently Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, a Democrat, suffered from an intra-cranial hemorrhage due to a congenital malformation of the blood vessels in his brain. Speculation has been rampant about the possibility of him dying or resigning and then the Governor, who for South Dakota, Mike Rounds, is a Republican, would have the opportunity of appointing a fellow Republican shifting the power of the Senate back to the Republican Party–all on the basis of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Coincidentally, a Republican Senator also is dealing with a life-threatening illness that was discovered after the November election. Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming was discovered to have Acute Myelogenous Leukemia shortly after the most recent November election. This possibly fatal disease would also result in the Democratic Governor of Wyoming, David Freudenthal, having the opportunity of shifting power towards the Democrats if in the event of Thomas’ death or resignation, he needed to appoint a replacement.
Is this what Democracy is about? That we should ever be interested in the demise of an elected official so that our political party might advance their influence? Should we ever permit a system that discourages an individual suffering with disease to resign from office just to preserve his or her party’s power in government?
It is time for a little political sportsmanship. Whenever any elected official, regardless of their political persuasion, takes ill, we should all be wishing for the speedy recovery of that person and should never be speculating about the effects of their demise. If they are a Democrat, let’s replace them with a Democrat; same if they are Republican. Let them know that they may not worry about the political effect of their illness; there won’t be any political gain or loss associated with Cancer, or Stroke, heart attack, or auto accident.
Let us take the ghoulish out of American politics today! Let us learn from our children and our sportsmen. Whenever an opposing political player is injured or ill, let the party with the ‘ball’ feel free to kick it out of bounds, knowing that the party who regains the ball will once again return it to the other side. Care of the injured, and concern about the well-being of our leaders is more important than political gain.
America can do better! And it is time for our leaders to learn that lesson.