On politics, football and country music

It’s a great time to be an Aggie Democrat. Texas A&M’s football team knocked off defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama Saturday, continuing an idyllic debut in the Southeastern Conference. And, as we know, Democrats held serve in last week’s national elections.

Aggie Democrats acknowledge on their Web site that “Aggieland is still a very conservative place.” But that hasn’t squelched any pride: “Despite what you may have heard, Texas Aggie Democrats is the best organization at Texas A&M.” I know a cadet or two who may object.

The point: Very rarely do we get everything we want, like Aggie Dems have now. Usually, it’s what country musician John Anderson sang, “Everybody’s got something. Nobody’s got it all.”

Some thoughts as we enter another few years with President Obama and A&M’s Johnny “Football” Manziel at their respective helms.

The truest thing I heard about the election results and I don’t remember from where: America is neither ready to give up its welfare state nor pay for it. In other words, we want the impossible. We want it all.

One one hand, the President and his party’s Senate majority were re-elected to continue the benefits that were surely worth their weight in votes.

Would you vote against the man who signed your two years of unemployment checks into law? If you were one of the 15 million who began receiving food stamps during the last four years, would you bite the hand that has fed you?

The debate rages over whether we’re more a country of economic producers or government services consumers. I don’t know. I do know that more and more entrants into the voting age population have been touched significantly by government provision.

Head Start, pre-Kindergarten, free and reduced breakfast and lunch, social worker involvement, welfare assistance, CHIP (children’s health insurance program).

If you’ve benefited from these, are you likely to vote for a candidate who talks about reforming entitlements? No more than this son of a small business owner is going to vote for a candidate who talks about higher taxes on successful entrepreneurs.

On another hand, the Republican House majority stands as a desire for at least some government restraint. An irony considering the sober upper chamber was intended to bring reason to the whimsical House.

Nevertheless, the wisdom of the American people has long achieved such balance, alternating between Republican and Democrat presidents, routinely splitting Congresses. Even if gerrymandered lines get us there, it remains wise to avoid all extremes, as the good book says.

In the end, the election likely came down to the political capacity of the candidates. Barack Obama has the gift of presence in the moment. The ability to make whomever you’re with feel like they’re your only priority in the world.

Mitt Romney was more aloof though not in a bad way. If his mind was elsewhere it was because he was devising some elaborate solution to some complex problem. Ultimately, voters could tell and they went with the candidate who would make them feel important if given the chance.

Back to football and country music. Now is the time for politicians to follow the remarkable example of the “boys of fall”, as singer Kenny Chesney calls them. Three hundred pound men who push and pull and hit and hurt each other for three hours.

Then, with helmets off, they walk across the field and hug and smile and joke about bygone days. Win or lose. For camaraderie, for mutual respect, for life after football.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.


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