The GOP's Commitment to Excellence

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Decades ago, the Raiders were a force to be reckoned with in the NFL (and the AFL before that). But beyond the team's success on the field, what was more impressive--and intimidating--was the attitude the franchise exuded. The slogan "Just Win, Baby" said it all. If winning is all that matters, everything else goes by the wayside. Sportsmanship, fair play, respect, rules, all out the window if they interfere with victory. "Who needs class when you've been to five Super Bowls?" many Raiders fans will say in online forums.

Decked out in silver and black, the Raiders broke rules and broke bones with the express approval of owner Al Davis, and their collective persona became one of violence. Raiders fans will identify it as toughness, but it's not the kind of blue collar toughness that teams like the Steelers and Packers try to represent. Instead it's "do the thing you opponent won't/win at all costs" violence you'd find in street fights where a guy shoves a broken bottle into another guy's face because he was "eyeballin' my girl."

Two types of people are attracted to that illusion of toughness: Thugs and Weaklings.

Thugs become Raiders fans because they have found an outlet for their antisocial, sociopathic actions in an environment where they will be not only accepted but lauded. If you went to a Costco and stabbed a guy for wearing a shirt with a logo for a sports team you didn't like, you'd go to jail and get hundreds or thousands of hours of psychological examinations. Do it in Oakland's Black Hole and you're a hero.

Weaklings become Raiders fans because they see strength in numbers. Spend most of your life being beaten up, thrown into lockers, and wedgied and you will come to find the benefits of friends who not only watch your back, but can do something about it if someone tries to sneak up behind said back, grab the waistband of your underwear, and pull it over your head. It's not easy for a weakling to ingratiate himself to a group of thugs--in junior high, I did it by letting the South Side gang members cheat off my tests and fudging their grades in the teachers' grade books--but rooting for a sports team is the perfect in. Take for example the young punk who begins taunting this Chargers fan around the 13 second mark of this video:
Why does he feel comfortable screaming taunts in a stranger's ear and waving his hands in a stranger's face? Is it because he's tough or because he knows that if that Charger fan so much as tries to ball his fist, he'll be on the ground with the boots being put to him by a dozen Raiders fans before he can curl his pinkies?

Because the illusion is why they are there, Weaklings must support it even more strongly than the Thugs. Like the Weakling above, they are more inclined to start a fight for the Thugs, then take credit for the way "they" "totally fucked up that Chiefs faggot!" even if their contribution consisted mostly of jumping around, waving their arms, and maybe getting a kick or two in after the victim was unconscious. The Weakling's contribution to the illusion is to expand it. Where a thug might be willing to just punch a guy in the face, the Weakling will convince him of the need to throw the victim out of a moving car, to burn him with cigarettes, or to piss on him.

Thugs and Weaklings are the Raiders' loyal base, but they aren't the only fans they've ever had. The Raiders' success in the AFL and years after the NFL merger attracted many fans. The tinge of danger combined with on-the-field success, plus the late 80s-mid-90's merchandising push by rappers like NWA, drew in hundreds of thousands. Unfortunately, most were Sycophants.

The Sycophant isn't a fan of a team. The Sycophant is a fan of winning. The golden age of NFL Sycophantaltry came in the early 90's when thousands of "football fans" identified their favorite team as "I like the Cowboys and the 49ers." Ask those same people today where their Niners gear is and they'll proudly show you their #18 Peyton Manning jerseys and Patriot Super Bowl Champion T-shirts.

The remaining fraction of the fan base was made up of the Reasonable, thoughtful NFL fans who saw the Raiders' intimidating style of play, commitment to speed in the secondary and receiving corps, vertical passing game, and lightning rod personality of Al Davis and believed those elements were a recipe for football success.

Of course, it's not "decades ago" any more.

Now the Raiders are terrible.

With every losing season, more fans jumped off the bandwagon, starting with the Sycophants, who left to root for the Broncos and Packers and Rams and Steelers and even the Buccaneers for a year, but slowly the Reasonable began leaving, too, coming to the conclusion that Al Davis's bizarre personnel decisions, lopsided trades, and refusal to advance his football knowledge beyond 1985 might override whatever successful aspects of the above recipe they once believed in.

With his organization bleeding fans, Al Davis had a decision to make. He could revamp the team, embrace a new attitude, and risk upsetting the Thugs and Weaklings who would see change as a threat to their comfort zone, or he could play to his base.

Look at a typical Raiders game and it's not hard to see what decision he made. And it's also not hard to see that the rest of the NFL despises the Raider Nation and considers the organization as a whole and its followers in particular to be a joke. The Raiders have nothing left but the Thugs and Weaklings, and a few Reasonables, like my boss, Ron, who don't like to be associated with the sociopaths, but stay with the Raiders out of a sense of loyalty and a hope that eventually the Raider values from Al Davis's "recipe" above will someday come around and prove successful again.

There is a valuable lesson here for Republicans.

"The mindfuck is a motherfucker. We skullfuck them bitches."
-Raider Milt

Watch that video again, but imagine these same people saying "Barack Obama" instead of "LaDainian Tomlinson," "Democrats" instead of "San Diego," and "Kathleen Sebelius" instead of "Kansas City bitch."

Like the Raiders, the GOP has turned to its most loyal fans, Thugs and Weaklings, to find its direction. The Thugs want wars so they can go kill a bunch of brown people who pray to different gods and talk in crazy moon-man languages. The Weaklings want the Thugs to torture the funny-talking brown people. The Thugs want the rich to get richer. The Weaklings want to make sure any opportunities for poor people to stop being poor get snuffed out. The Thugs want you to pay out the ass for health care. The Weaklings want you to pay out the ass, but then never get the care you paid for. The Thugs want to make life miserable for you just because you're not one of them and the Weaklings want to make sure you'll never become one of them because it makes them less exclusive.

Meanwhile, the Sycophants who marched in lockstep with Reaganomics and the Contract with America and Mission Accomplished have jumped ship. The Reasonables recognize that every time a Republican says, "Sarah Palin has some good ideas," that, in fact, no, Sarah Palin does not have any good ideas and any one who says she does is either lying or stupid. There are a few loyal Reasonables who honestly believe trickle down economics will work--just like my boss believes a bunch of receivers who clock 4.3 40's running fly routes all game long can win a Super Bowl--if given enough time, but they tend to be silent for fear of being associated with the nutcases--just like my boss insists, "I'm not one of those Raider fans."

What kind of Raiders fan? The kind that wears ridiculous costumes to draw attention to one's self?The kind that drags their kid into their own delusional world, making the kid look stupid before he's old enough to know just how inane what he's doing is?The kind that still believes unwaveringly in the plans of a dead old man whose ideas weren't very sound or well thought out even before he went senile?
(It's come to my attention that Al Davis is, in fact, not dead yet. Though, in my defense, have you looked at him recently?)

The point here is not that Republicans can't have good ideas any more than the Raiders can't field a good team. Rather that both organizations must realize that their current personae prevent those realities. Republicans who shun so-called RINO's, "Republicans In Name Only" who disagree with party leaders, Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck, chase brilliant minds from their party's ranks just as the Black Hole intimidates would-be Raiders fans from taking a rooting interest in the team. Blindly adhering to the economic plans of a leader who came to power with the intent of bankrupting the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War makes as much sense as expecting a team built around the one-dimensional blueprint for roster building outlined by John Madden in One Foot Equals Two Feet to result in a championship contender.

On the other hand, no Raiders fans have openly expressed a need for the NFL fans to rise up and kill Commissioner Roger Godell. It says something that I couldn't find a Raider fan equivalent picture to go with this:

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