I haven't written much about my beloved Patriots this year, mostly because they haven't looked much like my beloved Patriots this year. Since Brady went down, everything has been a crapshoot. This week the Patriots proved what I've been saying along: they are an average team at best. As such, they do what average teams do. They win against the crappy teams most of the time, they win against the other average teams 50% of the time, and they can't win against the good teams. With today's loss to the Steelers, the Patriots have lost to all of the good teams on their schedule this year so far.
Anyone who has suggested that the Patriots trade Brady and keep Cassell is a complete idiot. There's always a fair amount of that whenever a backup steps in and does well. News flash: Cassell is the quarterback of an average team...a team that was spectacular last year under Brady. For those who said that anyone could've done what Brady did with Moss and Welker, I submit this season as evidence to the contrary. Great players don't make a great team, great leaders do. Brady is a great player and a great leader, Cassell is a decent player and an okay leader. There's really no decision here.
At this point, the Patriots chances at making the playoffs are incredibly thin. Their best chance is to win the division, and this week would've been the week to pull even with the Jets. The Jets got pounded...but so did the Patriots, so no ground was gained although Miami is hot on the Patriots' heels. The Patriots will likely have to win out in order to even have a chance because the Jets' remaining schedule is pretty light. The wildcard picture is very competitive, and since the Patriots already lost to the Colts, they would get the nod if the two teams ended up tied.
In our weekly Patriots analysis phone call, my Dad and I have been discussing this issue: the Patriots seem to move the ball okay initially but can't get any points or have to settle for a field goal. They did that against the Jets and the Colts, and also did that against the Dolphins before pulling ahead to win. They did that once again this week. The difference is that when you do that against good teams, the good teams punish you for it. Randy Moss had at least two big drops in the first half that could've kept a drive going or scored a touch down. You need to convert those in a game against a good team. And of course they didn't, so the Steelers took advantage, which is what good teams do. Too many issues, too many mistakes, and you lose against good teams.
I started writing this with 9 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter and the game just now ended...and I don't need to go back and edit anything I've already written. So sad. I guess there's always next year.
With all of the election craziness, I started thinking again about one my favorite all-time debates: should elected officials and other leaders act as delegates or representatives? Anyone who graduated from high school probably remembers this debate (maybe you even had to write a paper on it). At the heart of the debate are two questions.
The first question is this: how do you believe democracy should work? If you ask most people, their response is that everyone's vote counts equally and the majority rules. That would lend itself more towards elected officials as representatives. A representative's job is to carry out the will of the people even if he/she disagrees with their wishes. Some would say this is a truly democratic setup and anything less is not acceptable. True democracy, where everyone's vote counts equally and elected officials do what the people want, work really well with an informed population that knows everything about the issues they're voting on. Democracy falls apart when uninformed people vote on issues.
I'm a fan of democracy, in general, but the problem is that stupid people's votes count just as much as intelligent people's votes. I happen to believe that this is a huge problem in the United States. When I vote for something, it's because I understand pretty well what I'm voting for or against; when Joe the Plumber votes for something, it's because he saw a pretty sign on the way to the voting booth. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people in this country voted one way or another on at least one proposition that they didn't really understand in the past election. Democracy completely fails when the stupid are in the majority and representatives then carry out their wishes.
The second question relating to a delegate versus a representative is this: what do you believe a good leader is? Representatives aren't leaders, they're puppets or gophers, just there to deliver what the people demand. If, on the other hand, you believe that leaders deserve to be elected to office, then what you're really looking for is a delegate. A delegate takes the people's wishes into account but ultimately uses his/her best judgement in making decisions. In a perfect system, delegates keep the government moving along at a good clip and with good results; the government would come to a standstill if elected officials always waited for the public to decide on every issue.
Intelligent people know that they don't know everything; stupid people think that they know everything. I consider myself to be a part of the former group, and I've always believed that elected officials should be delegates, pure leaders. I want to send someone to Washington that I know understands the world of government and international politics better than I do. I wouldn't presume to tell anyone how to deal with foreign dignitaries or when to change the interest rate. I would elect someone who I believe can make those choices in a logical way. The popular decision isn't always the right decision, and we need people in government who can make the hard decisions even when the majority of people disagree with the approach.
The same debate rages on with leaders in corporations. Should they do what the shareholders want all the time? Should team leads always be taking polls to see what should happen? In my opinion, the answer to both questions is no. Every process slows down when everything is put up for vote. To use a sports analogy, could you imagine if the quarterback had to poll each of the other 10 teammates on the field to find out what play they wanted to run? It would be chaos.
Leaders must be allowed to lead if they are to be effect, they must be allowed to be delegates until they lose the trust of the people; then they must be replaced.
Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably heard by now that Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States, making him the first non-white to hold the office. (Though actually, Bin Laden lives in a cave, and I bet he's heard by now, so no excuses.) Even though I've really had enough of the elections and the advertisements and the campaigning, I must admit that I was smiling as I watched Obama's victory speech. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been one of his biggest fans (not a huge McCain fan either), but watching him on stage I came to realize that this election was exactly what this country needed.
The United States has a public image problem. We used to be the good guy that helps everyone out and, at times, was a bit naive. In the past eight years, we've become the obnoxious asshole who throws his weight around, kisses your girlfriend in front of you, and beats up your brother because he looked at us funny. Under Bush, the anti-American sentiment that was a mere whisper eight years ago became a full-blown scream. When Sean Combs had gotten a bad rap in public, he changed his nickname; Snoop Dogg used to be a scary gangster and is now about as mainstream as Mickey Mouse. Public images can be changed and manipulated, but the best way to do that is not to say you're changing...it's to just do it.
Electing Barack Obama yesterday sent a message to the world that the United States is changing. We're moving past our racist origins and sending a minority to the White House. And the amazing thing about the election is that the issue of race rarely came up. If people didn't like Obama, they didn't like him because he was a socialist, or because he went to a church with a crazy minister, or because he was inexperienced; that says a lot about where we are as a people.
Just look at the excitement that this has released around the world. In Kenya, Obama's ancestral home, crowds erupted with cheers when the announcement was made. Thursday was declared a public holiday in Kenya because of the win and pride that Kenyans feel for having their genes in the White House. Imagine that. A different country celebrated an American President being elected. Remarkable. And Kenya isn't alone.
There are reports from all over the world about people being happy that Obama was elected. This is crazy. When people in other countries are happy about our new President who hasn't even taken office yet, imagine what it will be like in January. You can already feel the divide between us and the rest of the world already starting to shrink. It gives me hope that someday soon, we'll be able to meet many more countries at the negotiating table instead of at the end receiving end of a bomb.
It's only been 24 hours since Obama was elected, and the world has already reacted. Obama is more than just the next President of the Unites States. He's now a worldwide symbol of how anything is possible in America, and that democracy is so great because a country can completely change its public image and approach with each election. It's going to be a very interesting four years.
I've really had enough at this point. This election has been going on for years, and now that we're only a couple days from voting day (though I already voted), the increased rhetoric is really starting to get to me. The dirtiest ads have started running now, and it reminds me why I hate voting. Elections tend to bring out the worst in everyone and I've had my fix for the next four years. In California, the ads for each of the propositions are bordering on ridiculous. Each one has you believing that a vote in their opponents' direction will lead to the end of civilization as we know it.
The most inflammatory proposition on the California ballot is, arguably, Proposition 8. The purpose of the proposition is to eliminate same-sex marriages in the state (no really, the title is, "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry"). As with most propositions, this one is really about much more than just the stated purpose.
In 2000, California passed Proposition 22, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. California's Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that same-sex marriages could take place, effectively throwing out the results of the Prop 22 vote eight years earlier. There are quite a lot of people who are upset that the Court would see fit to throw out an initiative that was overwhelmingly passed by voters, bringing into question just what the Court's role should be in relation to voter-approved initiatives. In effect, a "yes" vote on Prop 8 could mean that you believe the Court acted improperly by overruling the will of the people.
On the other side, Prop 8 brings up the sting of institutionalized discrimination that has been at the heart of United States history. People are quick to point out that marriage between different races was illegal for a long time, while also mentioning how women were once not allowed to vote. So a "no" vote on Prop 8 could mean that you're against discrimination.
The sad thing about Prop 8 is that it's brought out the worst in both sides. There have been reports of yes/no signs disappearing from people's yards, vandalism, and other criminal acts perpetrated in relation to this proposition. I'm not sure how either side can be proud of that. There's also the typical grouping of people: if you vote "yes", clearly you're a bigot, if you vote "no", clearly you're advocating the gay lifestyle. A "yes" vote means you don't care about civil rights while a "no" vote means you're going to hell. I'm really getting tired of the finger-pointing and righteous proclamations being made by both sides.
The sides of this battle have spent an incredible amount of money on their campaigns - $70 million in total (source) - to try to convince people. Really? Is that the best use of that money? To make matters worse, companies such as Google and Apple have come out in opposition of Prop 8. Why do I care what either of those companies think? I'm a firm believer that corporations should stay out of politics, especially as it relates to non-business measures. I know I'd be a bit miffed if I worked at either company to have a "corporate position" on anything on the ballot. I, for one, am glad that Yahoo! hasn't put out any press releases telling people to vote a certain way on Tuesday; I don't like the idea of my employer having an official stance on something like this.
The other propositions aren't nearly as heated, but the battles are still there. Tons of money being spent on last-minute commercials that have been barraging the average voter household all day and night. I can't even begin to explain how tired of impassioned speeches I've become. If you really want to do a service to your state, don't listen to anything in the advertisements. Do your own research and figure out what you believe. And don't villify anyone who believes the opposite of you; they have just as much right to their opinion as you do to yours. That's what makes this country great. And after Tuesday, I'll be a much happier citizen, as I get back to life without political advertisements and people revert their middle names back from "Hussein."