Let me begin with the first and most important rule of enjoying politics: never, ever, EVER discuss gun control, under any circumstances, with anyone, especially with anyone who might possibly OWN a gun! Trust me, that could cut your enjoyment of politics real short!
Then you’ve got to lose your label of liberal or conservative or independent, Democrat or Republican, Yellow Dog or Birther, strict constructionist or flaming radical. To prevent someone from calling you names (and thereby dampening your enjoyment of politics), you’ve got to first stop calling yourself a name. If anyone ever asks you what your political affiliation is, you should simply say, “I’m not sure I even care. I’m just in this for the fun of it!” And, while we’re on the subject, don’t ever call yourself a free-thinker; everybody knows a free-thinker is somewhere to the left of Joe Stalin.
The corollary to the above rule is: never call anyone else a name, no matter how accurate or unflattering or in-yo-face you think it might be. Why? Well, first, it might lead to physical violence. (See my rule about discussing gun control, above.) Besides, it’s always more entertaining to insinuate that someone is a something-or-other, especially if you’ve done it in a way they’re too dim-witted to notice.
Next, be thankful we’re talking about American politics here. Because if we were talking about Indian, Czech, Ukrainian, Korean, Taiwanese or Russian politics, where vicious fistfights break out right in sessions of Parliament, all bets would be off. The only way to enjoy politics in those countries is to be a charter member of the Ultimate Fight Club.
View every instance of political media — the nightly news; those wingnuts on Fox or CNN or ABC or take-your-pick; the endless mindless bloggers; the peevish posts; the relentless rants; the dittoheads; the toxic emails from ‘friends’ and relatives — through the same lens. Enjoy them as you would the weekend NFL schedule:
1. Cheer for any arbitrary side of any arbitrary issue as if it was your lifelong hometown team, and you personally paid the star quarterback’s salary.
2. Place bets on the outcome of issues, not so small as to be painless, but not so large as to require explaining to your spouse. Bet even against yourself — why not?
3. High-five, fist-bump, chest-bump and compliment the intelligence of anyone who’s cheering on the same issue as you.
4. Trash-talk and sneer at anyone who’s cheering on an opposing position, but make sure you’re also simultaneously offering them beer and wings, so they remember it’s all in fun.
5. If your issue looks like it’s winning, gloat raucously for a half-hour or so, then pipe down. If your issue goes down to defeat, swear you’ll ‘kick their butts next week’ or explain it’s only because you had too many on injured reserve. Whichever is the case, forget it all by Tuesday morning, and start gearing up for another contest the following week.
6. Most of all, remember that you have just about as much chance of redirecting the political winds as you do making the extra point in a Steelers/Cowboys play-off game. You’re nothing more than one little spectator lost somewhere high above the 10-yard line, so bundle up, eat your hot dog, and get used to it.
7. Don’t be afraid to pick different sides of different issues in successive weeks. Keep it fresh. You don’t want to be predictable, and anything can happen in this game.
8. Finally, remember that Fantasy Football may seem imaginary, capricious, silly and a complete waste of time and money, but it’s got nothing on Fantasy Politics.