On Sunday night, the Atlanta Falcons christened their new home for the next thirty years or so with a win over the Green Bay Packers. The game wasn’t quite as close as the 34-23 score might indicate. The team, like their new facility, looks to be in world-class form.
I was one of the folks who attended the game, courtesy of my sister who has held season tickets for a decade or so. Her upper-level seats in section 308 have been traded for personal seat licenses in section 326.
The building does seem to set a modern standard for facilities of its type. As a bonus, the field dimensions now allow for soccer games to be played, something that a capacity crowd observed this weekend as well. It’s not my sport, but it is to a lot of Atlantans, apparently.
The major professional sports franchises of Atlanta have all decided that it was time to upgrade from relatively new facilities. The Braves have moved to a new state-of-the-art baseball and entertainment complex in Cobb County. The Falcons have a domed stadium with a convertible top, and the Hawks will be turning a heavily remodeled Philips Arena into the anchor for a downtown destination zone.
Two of the three are operational, and the third has completed the major hoops of acquiring a tax-funded revenue stream to partially finance the project. These are no longer a matter of public opinion. These are facts and realities that we each may do with what we will.
It’s not a secret to those who have been reading my columns for a few years that I wasn’t a fan of replacing the Georgia Dome with a new stadium. At this point the reasons don’t matter, and rehashing them will accomplish little purpose.
This is how a system of self-governing people is supposed to work. We are presented with ideas. The ideas are debated. A decision is made. We then must move on to what’s next.
I could spend the next 30 years boycotting sporting events in venues paid for with tax dollars. The truth is, that wouldn’t hurt the team owners very much. It would just deprive me of the opportunity to do something that I enjoy.
There is a concept in sport that draws a parallel to a fundamental that is often lost in modern politics. There is a defined winner and loser in each competition. “Could’ve” and “should’ve” can be argued until infinity, but there is one W and one L awarded after each match.
Participation trophies aren’t awarded, and filibusters aren’t allowed. There is a winner, there is a loser, and then the participants move on to the next match. The Falcons could spend all of their time arguing with the press about the last Super Bowl. Instead, they appear focused on getting to (and winning) the next one.
In modern politics, we all need to remember the power of moving on. This means a lot more than how this concept is currently defined and executed. It does not mean ignoring the results of the last campaign and immediately beginning the next one.
It is the confusion of politics as a permanent campaign that masks our inability to move on. By merely making the next campaign a continuation of the last one, we in effect are ignoring a signal sent by the voters in favor of our desired outcomes.
The political process isn’t supposed to be about campaigns. It’s supposed to be about governing. The two now often stand in stark contradiction to each other.
Sporting events used to be one of the things that could bring people of differing backgrounds and philosophies together. Even this concept has been politicized as part of the permanent campaign of recent.
The danger for those of us who refuse to accept the L’s that come our way is that we will not get to enjoy the benefits of the W’s we earn. In politics, each side now customarily blames the other for their behavior of the last time the shoes were on different feet, and proceeds to raise the level of obstruction to a new level after a loss.
This doesn’t just keep the other side from moving forward. It’s destroying the value of the basic institutions that allow us to come together and make mutual decisions that affect us all, and then to get on with our lives.
There is power in the ability to understand how to lose. There is peace of mind in the ability to move on. The next battle cannot be truly executed and conquered if we spend all of our time focused on the last one.
Charlie Harper, executive director of PolicyBEST, a public policy think tank, is also the publisher of GeorgiaPol.com, a website dedicated to state & local politics of Georgia.