The Need for Home-Team Criticism, Cont’d

by Will on October 21, 2010

Thinking further about the utility of criticizing one’s party when it holds power, I get caught in a frustrating contradiction. Sports fans understand the value of home-team criticism. Sports fans are endlessly questioning the actions of their favored team’s management, no matter the sports team, and no matter how well they’re doing. The best sports team is still going to lose a lot of games, and its fans are not going to be happy about it. And so the episodes of Seinfeld are loaded with criticism and mockery of George Steinbrenner, side by side with support for the Yankees.

In politics, somehow, people’s instinct is the opposite: to defend their side no matter what, and to shield it from all criticism. And thus it took conservatives five years to notice that they didn’t like Medicare Part D. And thus it’s taking liberals a long time to see that Obama needs to do more than he’s done. Why the difference? Why are people more rational about sports than about politics?

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