For NFL fans, 2012 began with a "do or die" game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants to win the NFC East championship and a spot in this year's playoffs. As heavily predicted, the Giants won 31-14, ending the Cowboys’ season.
“You don’t make excuses,” said Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo at Sunday’s post game press conference. “You either win or you go home.”
While football and politics operate on different rules, the strategies for obtaining victories and avoiding bitter losses are similar. Winning a Super Bowl or a congressional seat means having smart coaches and advisors on your team, developing a strong following, and maintaining consistency on the field or behind the podium. Will the Cowboys’ loss resemble the GOP's failure to defeat President Barack Obama this election year?
If the GOP continues playing like the Cowboys this season, then perhaps defeat in November awaits. The party already has the same amount of flair to young voters as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who looks like an angry 1800s Federalist yelling from the sidelines.
Looks aside, DeMarcus Ware carried the Cowboys defense this season. But one defenseman can only stop so many plays; a team's offense must score touchdowns. Ron Paul is the GOP's DeMarcus Ware, always on the defense for his foreign policy and healthcare stances. While Paul's young voter base continues to increase, the distance between him and his offensive team, traditional GOP members and voters, is expanding also.
The Cowboys' defense had arguably one star, but its offense touted good players that merely lacked consistency. Romo's performance felt many times left to chance. For one game, he'd gain points in the fourth quarter, but no one would remember because the following week, he'd get sacked continuously. Sometimes wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and tight end Jason Witten, caught the ball, other times, they'd suffer an interception or in the case of Witten, accidentally trip a dancing Cowboys cheerleader.
This year's GOP presidential candidates possess the same lack of consistency and unity, leaving victory up to chance. It's not every debate that Gov. Rick Perry remembers which agency he would eliminate, or every press conference that Herman Cain recalled his number of extramarital affairs. Not everyone expected former Sen. Rick Santorum to suddenly win second place at this week's caucuses or for former Speaker Newt Gingrich to fall behind so quickly.
In contrast to the Cowboys, everyone could anticipate the precision and unity of the Giants’ offense and the precision between Eli Manning and his wide receiver Victor Cruz. We can see the same kind of unity between the Democrats and Obama, who keeps pushing the Republicans back to keep his party happy and in Congress.
Even after a Republican nominee is chosen, there is still the difficulty of getting former rivals to unite under one party, mostly because each candidate has different views on several issues and a wide range of strengths.
A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that for NFL fans, the Cowboys are no longer "America's Team." Ironically, the GOP hasn't been all-around voters’ choice since 2000, when it won both the presidency and majorities in Congress.
Photo Credit: PlayfulLibrarian