The story of Trump supporters storming Capital Hill yesterday should not be viewed as unpredictable or shocking in any way. We as a nation have been working toward this for quite some time. Even the most casual observers of our culture could have expected this explosion of anger and the desire for revenge. We may not like it, we may call it deplorable or shameful or whatever else makes us feel better, but it is not un-American.
All you need to observe, in order to predict the actions at the Capital, are the fans of college football. Now, I don’t care which conference you think is the best or which team’s logo you currently have on your underwear, the spirit and the drive of the mob pushing through barriers on the rotunda is the same. Most college fans aren’t even sure why they are a fan of their beloved team. Perhaps they went to school there (this would at least make some sense) and so they support their alma mater. But just as many simply lived nearby, or their parents or their older brother or grandpa went to that school, or that is simply what their family always did. And just as you have your team to root for, so you root against their rivals. In fact, it’s not just your team’s rival, it is your personal rival. You make fun of them and post clever memes about the opposition.
Now it’s all done in good fun. It’s entertaining, and it gives you something to do and talk about with out-of-state family members who were watching the same game at the same time, wearing the same lucky underwear. And when your team loses, you get upset. But if your team loses on a botched call (or at least what you view as a botched call) you are more than upset and you will let people know. The passion is palpable, intellect and reason go out the window, and it is all raw emotion.
We’ve seen fans go crazy in celebration. We’ve watched as a night of joy turns into the tipping over of cars and the vandalizing of storefronts. But we’ve also watched as losing fans, especially if they feel cheated out of a win, suit up for war. Those wearing the opposite teams’ colors are brutalized. There are fights in the stands and demonstrations in the streets. Often it ends up with tear gas and curfews to restore order. And of course, throughout it all there are those who are just looking to create damage and spread destruction, who use the fanatical mob as useful cover.
Why did we think that our political confrontations would be drastically different? The Trump team is out in force with their red hats and Trump flags. This is their team, they hate their rivals, and they’ve lost. Let me be clear, it’s not just that the Trump/Pence ticket lost, they lost. Yet not only that, but they feel cheated. It was the ultimate botched call that will be replayed for years to come. There doesn’t have to be deep reasoning driving their actions. There doesn’t need to be well-articulated demands behind their rage. If Trump loses, they lose – and who wants to be a loser?
Absolutely no one!
Our institutions of higher learning are defined by colors and mascots and men who play games for adoration. And they love their fans more than anything else. You may have gone to school there, but it doesn’t really matter if you did, as long as you cheer, as long as you wear the hats and wave the flags. That is all that matters. Your team is a vessel for your love and excitement, and it is never satisfied. Dress up and paint your face, storm the barrier and chant in the streets. They will never tell you to stop or that you’ve gone too far.
I think our politics have simply been slow on the uptake. Trump finally provided a team worth rooting for along with identifiable merchandise and characters to either love or hate. We may not like it. You may think It is reprehensible, but it is what ESPN has been preparing us for all along. This is our America. Stop pretending it’s not. So, whose logo is on the underwear you’re wearing?