Possibly the greatest comeback story in sports history happened today, as Tiger Woods won his 15th Major championship. This after four back surgeries, four knee surgeries, and a myriad of personal issues. Just over a year ago, Woods was ranked in the low thousands among the world’s golfers. Today, he’s back on top of the sport he once dominated for so long.
Here’s the moment it happened. Watch the full thing and try to keep a dry eye.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 14, 2019
If you go on Twitter right now, it’s full of congratulatory tweets from all corners of American life. People from all races, all economic backgrounds, and every political ideology are celebrating the same thing. It’s a pretty special thing to behold.
That’s truly the power and goodness of sports on display. It’s also a testament to just what’s missing in our politics: Commonality.
Can a society exist in which there are no ties that bind? That’s the question we are going to have to answer if things keep going the way they are. What does a liberal from San Francisco have in common with a conservative from Louisiana? The answer used to be a like-minded view of the exceptionalism of the country we share, even through its many flaws. When the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, we were able to recapture that for a brief moment until it inevitably faded away under a barrage of partisanship. Today, we are as far apart as we’ve been since the 1960s.
Tiger’s story isn’t one of perfection. Quite from it. He’s dealt with the loss of a marriage, substance abuse issues, and the death of his father over the past decade. Many of his wounds were no doubt self-inflicted. Despite his myriad of flaws, he’s once again become a symbol for Americans of all stripes to rally around. One of victory, perseverance, and redemption.
Our politics have none of those themes. Large swaths of the country no longer view the American experiment as redeemable. Instead, they view it as irreparably broken, its list of sins too long to garner forgiveness. The focus is always on whatever issue hasn’t reached the pinnacle of justice, never stopping to look back at how far we’ve come and reflect on that. Punitive measures are the rage and the list of those who need to be punished never ends. The political scene moves from one crisis to the next, continually looking for the next wedge to drive deeper between the country.
It’s disheartening to watch how low we’ve fallen. How does a country function when two sides are so far apart as to assign rampant evil to the other’s political views? If one believes their political opponent is a literal fascist based on nothing more than mundane viewpoints that were mainstream ten years ago, there can be no reconciliation of differences. We now have one side of the political aisle asserting simple disagreement is “incitement to violence.” We can’t agree on views of liberty and justice anymore, much less policy and economics. Heck, you can’t even eat at a restaurant that’s not part of your cultural background without a subset of the country accusing you of racial appropriation. One Congresswoman, who’s been in the news a lot lately, recently described the U.S. as being founded by genocide. The differences among the populace are striking.
The breakdown of local communities, the rise of secularism, and a lack of purpose outside of the political realm have brought us to the precipice we now stand on the edge of. We have nothing in common anymore and it shows on a daily basis. The uneasy part of that is wondering what that results in.
Today though, as Tiger sunk that last putt, a huge portion of the country regained their commonality, even if for just a moment. It felt good, it felt healthy, and it felt inspiring. It’s the kind of thing a religious person feels when they worship with people they might otherwise never have a connection with. We need that back in our political discourse. Does that mean perfection or never disagreeing? Of course not, but there has to be some kind of core we all agree is right, just, and worthy of pursuit. If we don’t find that soon, I’m not sure where this all leads. I suspect it’s nowhere good. Society can not survive if people are constantly dividing themselves into warring identity groups, each feeling more entitled to victory and power than the other.
So what do that liberal from San Francisco and conservative from Louisiana have in common? Aside from Tiger winning the Masters, not much. If the country doesn’t find a way to rectify that, even at just the base level, things are only going to get worse.