The Politicization of Everything, Including the Congressional Baseball Game
It was the sultry type of July afternoon where your clothing sticks to your skin. On such a day, no one would willingly forsake the shelter of air conditioning unless they had to. When they had to go outside, people would slink furtively from shade tree to shade tree to escape the unrelenting glare of the sun.
But this day was special.
Not only was Congress in session (always an accentuating factor to D.C.’s perpetual hubbub), but it was also the day of the Congressional Baseball Game. Started before air conditioning, the Congressional Baseball Game has become a Washington summer tradition. As members of Congress transfer between hot, heavy debates and hot, heavy air, they need a break from the grueling routine. What could be a better way to lower the temperature — at least of the debates — than engaging in some friendly competition at America’s national pastime?
On this torpid Thursday, Republican and Democratic lawmakers convened not in the Capitol, but at Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals team. The teams sold thousands of tickets — mostly to Hill staffers and other politico-types — with proceeds going to charity. The D.C. aides could pick up simple paper fans, a brochure showing the team rosters, and $5-a-bottle water (ah, ballparks).
But not everyone was there for fun at the friendly faceoff. Several days prior, orange fliers popped up all over the capital city: “Shut Down the Congressional Baseball Game.” Someone was too angry to have fun, and they wanted to ensure no one else could have fun either.
As fans approached the ticket gates, they heard the protestors before they saw them. That’s because among the protestors was a brass band and a drum set, bedecked with banners proclaiming, “This is a climate emergency.” Dozens of other protestors held signs too, blocking half the gates. Some sat. Some stood. One lady with a megaphone led chants.
Minutes before game time, police hustled through the crowd toward the gates. A moment later, the reason became apparent; several of the protestors had attempted to slip past the ticket gates into the stadium and were promptly hauled out by security. In total, three protestors were arrested and charged.
At least one of the misbehaving protestors, a female, was highly uncooperative. She exited the park with one officer holding her legs and two holding an arm each. Along with the others, she was made to sit on the ground. As soon as they let her alone, she tried to spring back into the arena, and had to be forcibly restrained again.
It’s likely that no members of Congress saw the protestors attempt, unsuccessfully to “shut down” the game or enter unlawfully. Players don’t need to enter the front gates, ticket in hand. All the front gate protestors accomplished was blowing a lot of hot air.
Other protestors were savvier. A group of them purchased tickets to the game and climbed to the second deck before scattering pamphlets on the wind and unfurling a 15-foot banner reading, “They Play Ball While the World Burns.”
But no matter how savvy their tactics, the protestors still failed to persuade anyone. They didn’t even try to explain what a baseball game has to do with the climate. Does it raise methane emissions or something?
What protestors failed to accomplish, the weather nearly did. The afternoon brought on a downpour, as hot, humid, summer days are wont to do. Rain delayed the game nearly an hour after the third inning, cooling everyone down — and drenching them too.
The protestors’ only achievement was to advance a goal of totalitarians of all stripes: the politicization of everything (hence the root: total). When an ideology becomes an idol, it cannot tolerate anything that remains beyond its control. It must subsume everything. Not even a baseball game — a rare escape from politics for those whose whole life is politics — can be respected.
These tactics are increasingly common among leftist groups. Shut Down DC, the group that tried to “shut down” the baseball game, routinely employs illegal tactics such as blocking streets to try and make life miserable for others because they haven’t got their way (so, basically, an adult version of a toddler’s tantrum). In May and June, abortion activists protested at the private residences of Supreme Court justices because they didn’t like how they might decide a case.
Not only are these aggressively politicizing tactics gaining popularity, but they’re also growing farther-fetched. Indigenous activists in Canada protested colonial land grabs during the pope’s recent visit to apologize for the way colonists treated indigenous children. Was that really necessary? University of Michigan medical graduates walked out of their own commencement ceremony because of the keynote speaker’s pro-life views. What’s the connection, exactly? Climate activists set off flares and blocked the road to delay the world’s premier bicycle race, the Tour de France. How do bicycles hurt the environment?
There was a time when politics only rarely touched the lives of most people. But an angry group of busybodies is trying their hardest to change all of that. We’ve seen in recent years the most un-political things become politicized: from kindergarten to communion, from preventative healthcare to parenthood, from salaries to sports. Leftist ideology is all-consuming.
There is no peace in appeasing leftism, only in rejecting it. And, if we’re tired of the incessant politicization of everything, that’s exactly what we’ll do.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.