On Monday, Team USA kicked off their World Cup start with a 2-1 win over Ghana, the team that has knocked us out of the past two tournaments. I happened to be checking Twitter shortly before the game and was not surprised to see an outpouring of support for the team. What I did find interesting though was the way that elected officials and political parties voiced their encouragement.
It’s common knowledge that Republicans and Democrats currently agree on almost nothing. This polarization, as mentioned in my previous blog post, has led to the most unproductive Congress in history. They do, however, agree on their support for the US Men’s National Team. Prior to the game, Senate Democrats and House Republicans tweeted the following:
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) June 16, 2014
— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) June 16, 2014
For two groups whose Twitter feeds are primarily jabs at one another, it’s pretty amazing to see them sharing a #OneNationOneTeam hashtag. The Senate Democrats tweet even pokes fun at the polarization, saying “It’s not partisan.” But are we really one nation? It doesn’t always feel like it… As reported by the National Journal, not only has the percentage of Americans who consistently express conservative or liberal views doubled (from 10% to 21%), but we are becoming increasingly negative towards the opposing group. According to the Pew study relied upon by this article “The percentage of Republicans who hold a highly negative view of Democrats is 43 percent” while “[n]early four-in-10 Democrats loathe Republicans.”¹
It’s amazing amid this type of animosity what has the ability to unify a nation. National sports and patriotism have consistently brought people from all over the country together under a shared passion and competitive spirit. It seems that if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that America’s the best. As the San Jose Mercury News put it in a report on the 2014 Sochi Olympics, “The red state-blue state divide, temporarily, will disappear. Even if we don’t fully understand some of these sports[…]we will be united as we rabidly cheer on athletes who are the embodiment of our national ethos, better known as the American dream.”²
So how are we able to do this? We stop focusing on our differences and embrace where we are alike. We’re all Americans therefore we can all unite under the goal of promoting other Americans. This should be the goal in everything we do. I know I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Let’s use our feelings toward national sports as a model – let’s put aside our differences and start focusing on what we agree on. Just as the Americans claimed that a tie with Ghana would be sufficient, we need to remember that compromise isn’t a loss. If we can get things done that will better Americans, even if not fully to the point that our particular side wants, we can get back to the #OneNation that we so ardently claim to be.
¹ Fournier, R. (2014). Hard-core, hardheaded, hateful partisans are crowding out our politics. The National Journal. Retrieved from http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/hard-core-hardheaded-hateful-partisans-are-crowding-out-our-politics-20140612
² Almond, E. and Emmons, M. (2014). U.S. athletes, nation will experience flood of patriotic emotions as Sochi Olympics begin. The San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved from http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_25082109/u-s-athletes-nation-will-experience-flood-patriotic
Feature image via http://time.com/2888761/john-brooks-world-cup-winner-brazil/