Call me a fan of seemingly lost causes, but I still enjoy supporting my Cleveland Browns. Anyone who's seen me around town these past few weeks can easily spot me, because I'm apparently the only person in Mountain Home that's not afraid to wear the team's jacket in public.
Granted, I meet a lot of folks who were born and raised in northeastern Ohio, so wearing that jacket tends to be a conversation starter. Eventually, we end up talking about our hapless NFL team and what they need to secure a Super Bowl title.
Usually, that answer involves replacing the team's offensive line, the defensive line and their coach as well -- pretty much building a whole new team. In the meantime, the fans have lost interest in their hometown team, which then prompts the team's management to find ways to fix the problem. This usually involves firing a bunch of players and coaches.
You might say we have a similar problem regarding the nation's political scene. We have a huge group of lawmakers who are supposed to work together as one cohesive team to make this country a better place for people to live, work and play.
However, what we've seen over the past two decades is a legislative team that's so dysfunctional that my hapless Browns look like Super Bowl contenders, despite the fact that Cleveland actually won a one game this season -- a Christmas Eve miracle against the San Diego Chargers. This was the only time in recent memory that I actually felt sorry for southern California.
From my perspective, our lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate have forgotten their primary job -- to work together to make the lives of all Americans better and not just their supporters from their respective parties. What we've seen instead is the worst form of political theater imaginable.
There doesn't seem to be any signs of teamwork on either side of Capitol Hill -- the offensive and defensive halves of what's supposed to be America's team. They've dug themselves so far into their respective political trenches that no one dares to look up or risk getting "sniped" by their opponents or others from within their own party.
Then there's the opposition we've seen in the White House -- the "coach" of the nation's political gridiron. I don't think I've ever seen someone so dedicated to promoting their own agenda that they forgot what it takes to build and foster a winning team.
What we ended up with is a political team that I swear makes the San Francisco 49ers look like a team ready for playoff contention. Of course, that team has seen its own share of problems this season due, in part, to Colin Kaepernick's sideline protests, which I'm betting will eventually cost him his career in the NFL.
After all, fans watch games to watch their teams compete and win, not to watch a man making millions of dollars a year disrespect this nation by choosing to not stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. And when that same team has a poor season, regardless of the reason, the fans stop attending games, team merchandise ends up in the clearance aisles and the owners start firing people.
That's what this nation saw in the November election. Hillary Clinton appeared to be a shoe-in candidate for the White House but faced a stunning loss to Donald Trump -- a person pundits said never stood a chance to become president.
From what I've read and seen following the election, I believe the main reason why Clinton lost is because people lost faith in America's political team. There were too many of us out there that were displeased with the direction the nation was taking after eight years under their "coach" -- President Barrack Obama.
While I understand that people out there supported his agenda, the simple fact is that he seemed to spend too much time focusing on those issues versus the glaring problems facing this nation.
To paraphrase the words of James Carville, "it's the economy, stupid."
And that became the problem these past eight years. We had too many people out of work, a sluggish economy that spent years digging out of a major recession and a national debt that has now exceeded $14.3 trillion with no signs of coming down anytime soon.
With a "season record" like that, combined with a presidential candidate wanting to continue that type of progress, it's no wonder that so many voters chose a new coach to lead the team from the White House. At the same time, it seemed clear that some voters out there were not very happy with their representatives on Capitol Hill either with Republicans barely maintaining control of both sides of Congress after losing several seats.
What we've ended up with is a team that will hopefully post a few wins this coming season during the next legislative session. In addition to the important task of selecting a new justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, they will have to tackle everything the president-elect hopes to achieve. This includes immigration reform, strengthening the nation's economy and getting people back to work.
The last thing I believe a majority of Americans want to see right now is another 1-15 season with lawmakers and the president endlessly bickering over a bunch of pointless political banter that ends up as 10-second sound clips on the evening news. If our elected officials want to make it to the "playoffs" and remain on Capitol Hill and the White House, they need to do the one thing they've forgotten -- learn to work together as a team.
After all, the fans on the sidelines -- the voters of this nation -- are getting sick and tired of what they're seeing happen on the gridiron. If our elected officials don't remember that, I can see a whole new group of "first-round draft picks" getting selected during the next election cycle.
-- Brian S. Orban