The Ground Game

I’m curious about the idea of a “ground game” in these elections. Here’s my dilemma:

A a citizen of the United States, we have a civic duty to explore the issues, weigh the facts, and come to a conclusion based on what we believe will be the best course for our city, state, or country. We then go to the polls and choose a person who best represents our beliefs and our approach to dealing with problems and safeguarding our liberty, which is the primary purpose of government. Well, was the primary purpose of government. Now, not so much. The people seem to have decided that the government’s job is to give us money and other necessities, to eliminate the consequences of our bad choices, and to protects us from making those bad choices in the first place.

If the citizens of the United States are not exploring the issues, weighing the facts,and coming to a conclusion based on their deliberations, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities as a citizen. The ground game, as I understand it, is the efforts of people to go around and convince other people  that their side is right. The better the ground game, the more people they convince as to the rightness of their side, and consequently, the more people go out and vote for that particular side.But isn’t the necessity of a “ground game” indicative of a more serious problem? If citizens were actually fulfilling their obligations, everyone would go to the polls with a clear approach for dealing with the problems of the day. Or, to make it even simpler, if citizens were actually fulfilling their obligations, everyone would go to the polls. Low turnout as a percentage of the voting age population is clearly a factor in how we as a nation arrived at this particular precipice. Low turnout lets the people in charge know in no uncertain terms that the majority of the people they work for don’t care what they’re doing. Incumbency is almost as good a university tenure when it comes to job security.

Granted, one major flaw in this view of an ideal citizen is the quality of information the citizen has access to. One cannot make a rational decision without accurate data, and that’s something we have to go out of our way to find. It’s not just shamelessly liberal shills, either. Based on what we’ve seen, it’s pretty obvious that what we call the “News Media” is two very loud voices shouting at one another, and the noise makes it almost impossible to determine who is telling the truth and who isn’t. Case in point: the President maintains he identified the Benghazi attacks as terrorism on the first day, and many in the liberal media shouted it was true, while Fox shouted it wasn’t true. On the other hand, A number of conservative Pundits excitedly told us that turnout would favor the GOP, and other media outlets said that wasn’t true. As it turned out, Fox was right about the President, and wrong about the voters. The point is that there is literally nowhere to go in order to get an agenda-free presentation of the facts. Perhaps this is a factor in the horrendous behavior of our elected officials. They do it because they can, and even if they get caught, it’s so noisy that only a few people who are listening closely are able to hear about it.

I’m no political science expert, but it seems to me that it makes very little difference what sort of campaign a candidate is running if a majority of the people aren’t even paying attention. I think it’s deeper than the partisan divide, striking to the heart of what made our country the envy of the world for so long.

In light of this, I find it difficult to congratulate one side for having a good “ground game” while chastising the other side for having a bad “ground game”. What we’re really judging here is who has the better shepherds, without addressing the fact that the job of shepherds is to move around flocks of sheep.

The sheep, it seems, are the only thing both sides have in common.