SINN: Passion for baseball, passion for politics

Oct 23, 2012

It was up to Tigers reliever Phil Coke to sprint on and close out a 2-1 victory against a deflated Yankees team. A few Tigers fans around me started to chant, “We want Coke!” It didn’t catch, but inspired quite a few laughs.

There were plenty of other resounding cheers — and, in spite of the low score, plenty to be excited about. The Tigers’ ability to shut down offenses, we hope, should propel them to become World Series champions.

It is playoff time in America, and Detroit fans are more engaged than ever. What I felt at the game was a shared sense of pride and passion that is usually overshadowed by negativity and the convolution of facts in the other major competition of the season: the presidential election. In Comerica Park, I didn’t once ask myself which fans were Democrats or Republicans. It didn’t matter. But that shared enthusiasm I experienced in the ballpark as a baseball fan, I believe, can be an overwhelmingly positive factor in politics.

Passion of another kind – for humankind and for the American system – is the key component in improving our future in this country, and it exists across the political spectrum. The passion to move government, move the economy and move our society rests with no greater entity than “We the People,” us fanatics of ideals and ideas, as well as baseball.

Tigers fan share their wins and losses. That same impassioned ubiquity exists in this election and beyond.

This past Thursday evening, both presidential candidates gave airy, comical speeches at the Al Smith banquet dinner. They shared laughs together and poked fun at themselves. The difference in their tone, continence and character was stark to that in their debate performances.

America is just this way. Serious issues require tongue, attack and strategy; in the end, however, we are ultimately breaking bread together. We are sharing in our victories as well as our defeats. It is a shared goal to elect a competent leader, and this decision affects even those who are indifferent to politics.

There are two elements at play for Democrats and Republicans: there is passion for one’s party and what they advocate; and as we have seen emerge from the debates this past month, there is compromise. Democrats and Republicans seem to hardly get along — but in politics, there is still some uniting civility and respect. Love for party and love for country are not transverse mechanisms; they are parallel, or they are like a double-helix. Passion and progress go hand in hand.

I asked Ottawa County Democratic Party Chairwoman Liddy Olszewski how she felt about the effect party affiliation has on the West Michigan community. Her response was, “As a Democrat in Ottawa County, I think party affiliation has both a polarizing and a uniting effect.” She went on to say, “When involved in Democratic Party functions with other Democrats, party affiliation has a great uniting effect.” We saw the largest-scale example of this at the respective national conventions held by each party this summer.

I asked Olszewski what opportunities there were for the younger generation to get involved in party politics. She said, “The OCDP welcomes young people to help with office work, phone banking, canvassing, data processing and more.” Politics is in every community, even here in Grand Haven.

These people dedicate their time to promoting a set of values and solutions they believe will improve the lives of all of us. That is where passion is found; in values reflected in legislation and government action. And it rests in those who campaign and vote leaders into office. Their messages are spread all across the country.

I am a pizza delivery driver, and on the job I routinely see neighborhoods that are absolutely littered with campaign signs — for the national candidates, but for state politicians as well. Driving in Detroit to the Tigers game, I saw that the same was true. I celebrate the fact that on the ground, in local communities, people are dedicated to impacting the bigger picture. Michigan, like much of the country, is kinetic and alive with hope. The parties are separate, the candidates opposed, but devotion to bettering Americans’ lives is a parallel force that sits on both sides of the table, and it breaks the barrier of the fundamental disagreements that set the parties apart.

Next month I will be at the voting booth. My vote is not a decision to oppose people and their ideas, but to support the legislation and leadership that I believe will make a lasting, positive impact on Americans and people around the world. Achieving those goals involves a difficult, complex process; but it is simply a desire that all voting Americans share.

— By Alexander Sinn, Tribune Community Columnist

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