Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ditka Dreams

OK. I'm going to try to be gentle. But fair warning. If you were fat & happy about the Illinois Republican Party drafting Ditka, the following may be a little hard to swallow. You're free to move on.

Still here? Well then...

Mike Ditka is my current nominee for savior of the Republic. Not because he's running for Senate, but because he's not.

I bit my tongue on the whole Arnold "Governator" thing in California, largely because it was far away and their governor was so awful I could easily see a random name in the phone book as a better choice. But there is a point where pursuit of "name recognition" must be tossed aside so those of us concerned about serious government can say, "Wha?!!!"

Mike Ditka is known primarily for winning Super Bowl XX, and yelling at football players. This is virtually his entire resume in the minds of the average Illinois voter. How this translates to "statesman and Senator" is something I would like someone to seriously explain to me.

I KNOW why he's popular. I simply can't reconcile this popularity with anything that suggests the makings of a good legislator. And I haven't seen any analysis even attempt to bridge this gap.

Have we really come to this as a nation? Apparently we have.

I have noticed a pattern developing. When celebrities run for office, it is rarely for state representative, or state senator, or even a state representative. Celebrities get to skip all that, and qualify immediately for Senator or Governor. There is no serious reason this should be so, other than that the electorate doesn't care about government as much as they care about celebrity.

Ok, you say, so that's the state of affairs. Let's use it to our advantage and win! But it's a deeper problem than that.

Republics stand on the basis of a fundamental principal - that the electorate is responsible enough in matters of government to take public office seriously, and they reflect that in their votes for representation.

The idea that Mike Ditka - a man with a proven hot temper, but no record as a public servant - ought to be considered for one of the highest offices in the land, challenges that foundation. Why not let the Superbowl MVP serve as president for a year? Why not elect Congress the same way we vote in a Major League Baseball Allstar Team?

This is a symptom of a Republic's decline. Bread and circuses in place of government. Thanks Mike Ditka for refusing to play. But the problem lives.


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