Having posted my NFL Playoff predictions on our Facebook page, I figured I’d crash and burn. These games get crazy. A fumble this way, an injury that way, and you go from brilliant to laughable in mere moments. Trust me, I know the feeling. I supported Herman Cain in 2012.
But this past weekend was different:
- I picked New England over Baltimore by 7 points. New England won by 4.
- I picked Seattle over Carolina by 14 points. Seattle won by 14.
- I picked Green Bay over Dallas by 4 points. Green Bay won by 5.
Thus far, I had picked all three winners. I picked them by a total of 25 points, and they had won by a total of 23. I was on fire. I was the master. Whole religions would form around me. My wife would become “Our Queen.” I was getting T-Shirts printed.
Then came what should have been the easiest pick: The Denver Broncos at home against the Indianapolis Colts. What a lock. Denver was far better. Sure, the Colts had the stud quarterback, but that’s like saying there was a reeeeeeally terrific soldier in Custer’s regiment. It wouldn’t matter. By halftime, the teams would meet in a tent at midfield, where the Colts, heads bowed, would unconditionally surrender. A misguided rebellion put down, there would be peace.
I picked Denver by 21 points. Indianapolis won by 11. I felt like Barack Obama, calling ISIS a JV squad.
How could this happen? How? Well, in the days following the ambush, much became known about the Denver Broncos. Quietly, behind the scenes, they had become Team Turmoil.
The coach was dismissed—after a 12-4 season. Huh? The quarterback weighed retirement—after pledging to return a month earlier. The GM tried to reassure fans, but throughout all the damage control and happy-speak, one thing was clear: These leaders had been at each other’s throats.
Thinking back on the game, this made sense. Here were the upstart Colts, flying around like their lives depended on it, expending every drop of effort. For them, it seemed like it wasn’t just about winning; it was about commitment—dying for a cause, so to speak. The Broncos, meanwhile, also wanted to win. But they weren’t inspired. Toward the end, rather than fight to come back, they caught short passes and even stayed in bounds to run out the clock. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
So how does a team become Team Turmoil? It often starts like this:
- At first, the leaders are wholly devoted to winning. They want the same thing.
- But as challenges arise, underlying disagreements lead to internal blame. “Had we run the ball more, we’d have won! Had we blitzed more, we’d have won!”
- In time, each leader becomes protective of his methods; his turf.
- Then, one leader hears others are questioning his ideas when he’s not there. So, he defends himself by rallying support—questioning others when they aren’t there. Now you have factions.
- Finally, leaders decide victory can only happen through the subjugation—or outright removal—of opposing views. For the good of the mission, they believe they must defeat one another.
Is the team affected? You bet! People can’t focus amidst power struggles. There’s no consistency. There’s no excitement. Every victory or defeat becomes someone’s “See, I told you so.”
And this, my friends, brings me to the current state of the Republican Party.
As you may know, I’m a proud Tea Partier. I take a side. But having come from the Left, I love the Right, and am heartbroken over our current civil war. When I see Establishment leaders demoralizing the grassroots with power moves, I wonder, “How can this help?” Even when I see Tea Party leaders talk more of ousting “RINO’s” than beating Democrats, I wonder, “How can this help?”
“But Andy,” I hear, “We have to reach undecided voters, and those Tea Partiers drive them away!”
“But Andy,’ I hear, “Compromise won’t inspire, and Establishment leaders wreck our message!”
Both sides say, “They’re undermining us!”—followed by the obligatory, “We aren’t leaving them. They already left us!”
“Had we run the ball more, we’d have won! Had we blitzed more, we’d have won! That last game—win or loss—PROVES I’M RIGHT!!”
Taking a step back, let’s look at our opponents. Right now, the Democrats are reeling, and not just from their November disaster. They have virtually no bench; no exciting candidates. They have no message beyond “Vote for us, and we’ll take down those people we’ve convinced you to hate.” Every city the Democrats run, crumbles. Every program they advance implodes. Their signature legislation—Obamacare—is becoming our best advertising. The Democrats are a mess.
They are the Colts, and this should be a rout. But as one raised among the Left, let me tell you what they do have: Uncompromising Commitment. These people will die to beat you. They have no principles except resentment of you and a thirst to control your life. They have no conscience. They will scratch, claw, intimidate—anything to win. The Left is huge, motivated, and above all, they are one.
Our locker room contains loads of talent, all divided by warring factions. The Left’s locker room contains little talent, but unity of purpose. In political terms, we want our way. They want our bodies strewn across a battlefield. We want compliant followers or perfect leaders. Politically, they want blood.
- We punish dissenters by removing them from committee seats. The Left only wants blood.
- We talk about 3rd parties. The Left only wants blood.
- We publicly mock one another, like John McCain did to Ted Cruz. The Left only wants blood.
- We abandon every leader who disappoints us. The Left only wants blood.
- We use every outcome as proof we’re right. The Left only wants blood.
We have become the 2014 Broncos—talented but conflicted. While we play games and build allegiances, our opponents play for keeps. That’s the bottom line.
I’m offering no answers; not today. I just ask that, the next time we silence dissent or wage another internal war, let’s step back and think about what we saw at Invesco Field this weekend. Think about what we face in that other locker room. Think of their commitment. Think of their resolve.
And above all, consider the consequences of being Team Turmoil. Count the costs for our civil war. Remember, this isn’t sports, where we just lose a game (and I lose a week of unbearable gloating). This is politics, my friends. In this arena, we can lose a country.