Political lessons from the New England Patriots

tom-brady-on-fieldSet aside the friendships between Donald Trump and New England Patriots MVP quarterback Tom Brady, or coach Bill Belichick or owner Bob Kraft (who, as a young man, stood with his late wife as leading progressive Democrats), there’s still plenty of inspiration to be found in last night’s epic comeback by the Pats in defeating the tough, aggressive, skilled and energetic Atlanta Falcons. And never mind the comments on CNN this morning by Florida Republican Congressman Tom Yoho, who drew an analogy between Brady’s first half deficit and Trump’s historic low approval rating for a new President.  Sorry, Congressman Yoho, you can’t appropriate Brady to predict Trump’s ultimate excellence. Even if Number 12 is Trump’s golfing partner, he is ours.

What we in New England must take from the Super Bowl is that, no matter how beaten down Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans might be at this moment, aghast and afraid of the Divider-in-Chief in the White House, a comeback is possible. It will take courage, intense focus and very hard work, not just by yeomen on the team but by those in leadership as well.  Commitment, study, practice, strategy and tactics, collaborative teamwork and skilled execution are some of the major elements to beat the opposing team.

If we’re serious about halting attacks on economic justice, educational opportunity, civil liberties, religious and reproductive rights, health care, environmental and consumer safeguards, not to mention thoughtful global engagement, we need to reach beyond the bubble of blue state, bicoastal, urban America.  We need to share resources and get to work. Feel-good marches will only go so far.

Just as the Tea Party learned from community organizer Saul Alinsky’s handbooks, left-leaning folks should selectively learn from the Tea Party’s organizational abilities. A group of former Congressional staffers has put together a 23-page document to influence Congress under the title of Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda.    Town Hall Project 2018 is a guide to town halls scheduled by members of Congress.    A college friend provided some useful information for people whose elected officials are already enlightened and want to extend their influence.  Flippable.org is focusing on state races where there’s an opportunity to flip state politics from red to blue. This year, they’ll work on gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia (where blue margins are slim) and on redistricting in North Carolina. In 2018, there will be congressional mid-terms, 36 governor’s races and 6000 legislative seats opening up.  Another site is swingleft.org, which matches activists with the nearest swing district. Progressive politics must be rebuilt brick by brick.

On a more philosophical level, a website under the auspices of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, also named “Indivisible,”  uses the work of photographers and interviewers to tell the many personal stories of individuals in the communities that make up the fabric of our nation. Having empathy for others is essential to enhancing comity.

Like the Patriots, we are down  28 to 3, and the game clock is ticking. But the lesson of the Patriots, for kids and adults alike, is don’t give up. The task we face is enormous. The work starts at the foundational level. Rigorous preparation daily is a springboard to victory. And it starts immediately.

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