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This new series is guest blogged by Doug Logan.
Doug Logan is an Adjunct Professor of Sports Management, at New York University.
He was the CEO for USATF from 2008 until September 2010.
He was also the CEO, President and Commissioner for Major League Soccer from 1995 to 1999. To read more about his background and involvement in Track, Soccer, Rugby and the Music industry, read my Freelap Friday Five Interview
This is his 19th article. Click here for his entire series.
SHIN SPLINTS REDUX
In the late 1970’s I was recruited to play a leadership role in the development of the MetroCentre, a sports and entertainment venue in Rockford, IL. This second largest city in the state had been trying to finance and build a Civic Center for nearly 50 years. There had been five separate attempts to develop a mass gathering facility, and all five attempts were shot down by citizen opposition. The one thing in common with all these failed attempts was that in all cases the “antis” used the same metaphor for the proposed projects. They called them a “white elephant”.
I was ultimately hired not only to form capital for the financing, and supervise the design and construction, but also to be the facility’s first General Manager and operate it. The project had its vocal critics right up to its opening on January 1st, 1981and beyond. I decided to take that historic metaphor and make it mine. Several weeks before the inaugural event I unveiled the mascot for the project. I had gone to the Imagineering Labs at Disney in Orlando, FL, and had them make a life-size costume of a white elephant. The mascot, who did not talk, began making public appearances throughout the city including parades, city council meetings, press conferences, children’s wards at hospitals, etc. I refused to have the mascot called anything but “the white elephant”. No naming contests.
The pachyderm was a big hit. I ultimately had to replace the costume twice because of wear and tear. And, I had taken a negative sobriquet and turned it into a positive.
The current destructive battle over funding governmental operations is branded in a similar, albeit opposite, fashion. A relative small number [about 40] of House Republicans, together with a miniscule number [about 4] of Senate Republicans are using political terrorism to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Too strong a term, you say? What is terrorism? It is the use of threat and fear and force by a small minority to enforce their will on the majority. Those opposed to universal health care lost the battle in Congress, lost the lawsuit at the Supreme Court and are now waging a rear guard action to stop the law of the land before it is implemented. And, they are using the cudgel of the appropriations bill that funds government operations. Listen to the rhetoric of the partisans. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas this week said the law must be stopped “by any means necessary”. Malcolm X must be rolling over in his grave to hear his revolutionary battle cry screeched by this right-wing apostle.
The fascinating rhetorical gambit by the Republicans has to do with their refusal to call the Affordable Care Act by its name. They insist on calling it Obamacare. It is not only that they use this name for it, but it is the way they use it. They spit it out like an epithet. It has become their mantra. And, I suggest it has also become their metaphor for “that black guy in the Oval Office”. I am convinced that “the O word” has become the surrogate for “the N word”, and when uttered all the active and latent disciples of racism in this country know what it means.
The curious element of this battle is that the Affordable Care Act is really the child of Republican policy making. Many of the elements of the bill were developed by the Heritage Institute, a conservative Republican think tank. The “mandate” element of the law was a Republican alternative to the “single payer”. Mitt Romney, as Republican Governor of Massachusetts, implemented a highly successful replica of the law as his signature accomplishment during his term. When he ran for president he had to run away from his achievement like Usain Bolt because the political terrorists decided that they could not allow “that black guy in the Oval Office” a victory.
The key argument comes down to this: progressive Democrats believe that access to affordable, quality health care is a societal right while their opponents do not. Every civilized country in this world treats its citizens in this benevolent fashion, and most for less money.
About five years ago I began to feel like we had entered a new era in this country in race and gender relations. An African American had slugged it out with a white woman and won the presidency. Ironically, the best golfer [Tiger Woods] was a person of color, the best rapper [Eminem] was a white man and the “tough guy” of the administration as head of the Department of Homeland Security [Janet Napolitano] was a woman. We have seen in the years since the mysterious ways that racism raises its ugly head. Birthers, Congressional obstructionists, Fox analysts, talk radio: all have become proficient at poisoning the political process with “the elephant in the room”. Notice I didn’t say white elephant.
Obama, on the other hand, is much smarter than they are. He graciously accepted the use of the term Obamacare. He knows more about history than his opponents. He knows that Medicare and even the Republican drug bill pushed by George W Bush were unpopular prior to their implementation but are now enormously and universally beloved. His legacy as the architect of Obamacare will be burnished as time goes by.
We are becoming less racist as a society. Listening to the hateful blather that this debate produces is akin to watching the dance of the dinosaurs. The proponents of overt and covert discrimination are a vanishing breed. My children’s generation is relatively color blind and will build a political electorate that will not countenance this garbage. I truly believe that this battle is one of the last.