Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,

As someone who lived in Europe for several years, I can’t help but wonder if the real problem with the budget crisis is the two-party system. Wouldn’t more parties mean greater flexibility, less partisanship—and quicker budget deals?


Dear Snooty Expat,

It’s true, there is a powerful political cartel that has been screwing things up for years. They limit access to a small number of competitors. They rig the rules to screw the little guy. They back up this nefarious scheme with a whole bunch of scientific-sounding mumbo jumbo. The result is a dearth of ideas and a lesser product for the people of this great nation of ours. This evil racket is both tragedy and farce.

I’m speaking, of course, about the Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, as its better known (which could be thought of as BS with something stuck in it). Much like the two-party system, it gets us so obsessed with the minutiae of the horse race that it never occurs to us that we might prefer jai-alai. It’s not like I’m opposed to lobbying and backroom deals—but don’t run a scam and then blame it on a computer. Call me old fashioned, but when you need a computer to figure out who won, that ain’t sports, and it ain’t entertainment, and I sure am gonna change the channel.

Who gets screwed by this system? Well, me, that’s who. There were seven one-loss teams from major conferences this year, not to mention a couple of impressively unbeaten little guys—and that damn computer chose one I hate (Oklahoma) and another I don’t care about (Florida). My home-state Texas Longhorns were reduced to giving Ohio State its annual bowl beating (though, I must say, each January’s Buckeye humiliation makes me feel better about the 2004 election).

My alma mater, the USC Trojans, were relegated to yet another separate-but-equal Rose Bowl, where they delivered yet another foregone conclusion of a shellacking to a Big 10 team with about as much speed as me after a porterhouse and five shots of JWR. So what if my Trojans came out of a conference better known for fans puffing doobies in the stands than for their football traditions, or that the seats are empty because people decided to go to a Shakespeare festival instead? Who cares that half the schools’ fight songs were originally sung by the Grateful Dead? My Trojans had the best defense I’ve seen since that farmer with the three perky daughters who lived down the road from me when I was growing up, and they deserved their shot.

Let’s settle it on the field, folks. That’s how we do it in politics. Even in our two-party duopoly, you gotta survive a whole bunch of rounds of playoffs before you even make it to the state Assembly. School board elections, city council contests, endorsements, primaries—and no computer has a say at any point. You wanna bring in the Peace and Swedish Massage Party, the Gun Owners with Issues Party, the AnarChrist Party? I say the more the merrier. Though some goody government types might have their own thoughts on the political primary rules, leaving moderates as the proverbial Mountain West Conference of California politics, but that’s another column.  

At least these folks have the option of trying to change one of the major parties from within. The likes of Utah and Boise State can’t exactly go get involved with the local Pac-10 canvassing board and work their way up. Let’s have a playoff, and let the little guys in if they can get it done on the field. Keep the bowls in place if you have to, but let’s call them primaries and use them to filter through the top eight teams.

No less a figure than Florida coach Urban Meyer—a guy who is getting to play for the national championship—has said some other teams got screwed. This is sort of like Al Franken saying Norm Coleman should get another shot. Let’s listen to him. When even one of the winners says the system is broken, you know you’ve got a real dog on your hands.

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