It's A Gray Area: Politics is sports by other means

What is your political philosophy? It is an interesting question that few people really give time to think about. With apologies to George Carlin, here's how I see the three largest political parties in our country.

Republicans are like football players. This game is played in the winter, when everything is dying, and in all types of weather. It is a rough sport so all of the players wear helmets and pads, and the game played on gridirons, which often have names like Memorial Stadium or Soldier Field.

Since this game is akin to a war, the quarterbacks are seen as the field generals who try to force their team all the way through their enemy's territory to score by throwing bullet passes from shotgun formations on target to their receivers. And occasionally when the attacks stall, a specialist comes onto the field to kick. Uniquely, to be awarded more downs is a good thing.

The football game is timed, so we mostly know when it will be completed, but the teams receive a two-minute warning before the time expires. Nevertheless, there are lots of opportunities during the lulls between each play to analyze what has just happened, and everyone knows when the action will resume. Of course, only the skilled players can legally touch the ball, and normally only the strongest and fittest teams prevail.

Democrats, on the other hand, are like baseball players. This game is played in the spring and summer, when the weather is nicer and the flowers begin to bloom. In keeping with that spirit, the rules provide that if it is raining the game must be postponed. So this is more of a gentleman's game, played in a more pastoral setting, like a park.

Taking gentlemanliness to an extreme, baseball is probably the only game in which the ball is put into play by the defense, and those on offense are actually prohibited from touching the ball at all. Although there are set numbers of opportunities or innings for each team to score, the game is not timed. Furthermore, if the teams are tied after the set number of innings, the game can drag on for an unlimited number of extra innings until one team prevails.

The baseball players wear full uniforms with long pants, but they use no padding and wear caps instead of helmets. This is also probably the only game in which the manager wears the same uniform as the players, so everyone at least can appear to be equal.

The players on the teams communicate with each other by using their own special signals. And if a specialist is needed, he comes onto the field to relieve another player. Of course, the game is not as gentlemanly as it would seem, because stealing is a significant part of the contest, whether it be to steal a base or the opposing team's signals. But, instead of pursuing things like downs, the offensive players are called up to bat. Of course, like the gentlemanly sport it is designed to be, many of the players are called upon to "sacrifice," a pitcher who fakes throwing to the plate or a base is penalized, and the object of the game is to be safe at home.

Libertarians are far different from the others because they are like soccer players. This game, like life itself, is played year round and in all kinds of weather. The players wear functional uniforms with short pants, but they do not use any pads or head coverings. In fact on occasion some players, both male and female, show their individuality when victorious by publicly taking off their shirts.

The action in soccer is almost continuous, there are few time outs and the game evolves quickly from offense to defense and back again. In addition, substitutions are rare, and all players play both offense and defense, can touch the ball and can score. The games are loosely timed but, if tied at the end, there is a quick succession of penalty kicks by several players that finally decides the game.

Of course, all of these linkings of political beliefs with various sports are generalizations, but you will probably see that many of the comparisons are valid. Libertarians agree that life, like in football, can be brutal, so we need a government to protect us from other countries and also from each other — and we also need a Constitution to protect us from our government! But, unlike football and baseball players, soccer players are generally much too busy with the ongoing game to argue or lobby with the referees to try to get better calls that influence the final results. Thus Libertarians rely more upon their own performance, instead of seeking things like tax breaks, individual and corporate welfare, and other benefits from government, for their success.

Of course, Libertarians join many Republicans in being perplexed with those who say that it is greedy to try to keep your own earnings, but not greedy to use the government to take the earnings of somebody else. Yes, we all know that sometimes people need some help, but Functional Libertarians respond by believing that government should be the last resort instead of the first resort.

As is our reputation, we Libertarians take our liberties seriously because they represent our core values. But we would hasten to add a Statue of Responsibility to go along with our nation's Statue of Liberty, because we know there can be no liberty without individual, corporate and governmental responsibility. And that makes us unique in political life today.

So when it comes down to it, probably 80% of voters share the libertarian values of both financial responsibility and social acceptance. Are those your values too? Where do you fit? You can find out by going online to and taking the World's Smallest Political Quiz. I think you will find the results to be quite revealing.

JAMES P. GRAY is a retired Orange County Superior Court judge. He lives in Newport Beach. He can be contacted at

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