The NFL and the Republican Party Are Sinking

Professional football and the Republican Party will need to make some changes if they hope to be around in 15 years.

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Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (92), strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (23) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit.

Did you know in medical circles there's talk the NFL will only last another 15 years or so? 


The medical evidence linking professional football's furious, jarring hits to the head and brain injury is that strong and overwhelming. Later in life, it all catches up to a guy, who succumbs to being a shell of himself. For wives, it's incredibly painful to witness their strong and mighty men become lost and weak, day by day, weeks giving way to months and years, relentlessly. Like a slow death march.  


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The NFL is so rich and powerful it's hard to imagine that happening, isn't it? With all the stadiums they made cities build for them, their dominance over network television schedules, their carefully cultivated rivalries, their gleaming Super Bowl half-time shows, their spiffy uniforms and grumpy coaches—how do we go on without all that? The NFL has so much control over American lives, aspirations, and social mixing that it is practically a shadow government.  

The NFL has faced litigation over brain injuries and is bracing for many more lawsuits as its first generation of former players reach old age. 

But some say a tipping point will emerge, a consensus that an entire swath of football players—past and present—will almost certainly deal with brain damage. And all the NFL's lavish compensations will not be enough lucre to prod players to keep playing the game as it is now played: brutally. The whole sport is a gaming of war, after all.  Organized violence is what we collectively come to see.  

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These experts think the NFL will be suddenly forced to switch to a game like soccer. I'd love to see that, but I can't fathom the NFL buckling to sweet reason so soon. Football is so much part of the Americana male archetype. Soccer is so lightweight, literally.  

Well, guess what. Political observers are saying the same thing about the walking-wounded Republican Party. They say the game it's playing is moribund. The party Lincoln joined when it was young is foundering, according to the Washington pundits, not all of them Democratic observers. The 2012 election showed that the party has white men squarely on its side, but the electorate is not all white men anymore. 

Meanwhile, the party lost the Latino vote, the black vote, and of course, the women's vote after its visceral attack on reproductive rights. Who did they think would vote for their ticket other than well-off white men? The quintessentially privileged candidate, Mitt Romney, could not connect across class and lines of life experience. And he really was the best the party had. Think of how Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum—anyone else in the primary—would have been an international disgrace. They need new fresh faces. 

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The Republicans seem to be at a loss for new ideas as well. Cutting Medicare is as popular as a skunk about a garden party. They should have more garden parties and fewer skunks—do I need to name them? They are all there on camera every day, looking dour and angry that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans are going to see their Bush-era tax cuts expire. Too bad!  

The NFL and the GOP: what a plight. I feel so sorry for them. But let's say it clear here. They deserve to have their game and party sink into the mud if they can't freshen up.  

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