Guest columnist Rob Okun: How a single baseball game could determine the future of democracy

  • Nationals Park in Washington D.C. Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton

Published: 8/9/2022 3:42:48 PM
Modified: 8/9/2022 3:39:32 PM

Events this summer have unambiguously demonstrated that to much of the nation, the hard right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court stands for injustice, while the “just-the-facts, ma’am” U.S .House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack stands for justice.

Since each group has nine members — the same number as players on a baseball team — a surprise proposal gaining momentum in and beyond Washington, calls for the two teams to play a single game to determine the future direction of the country.

Simply put, if the Supreme Court (the Supremes) wins, the U.S. would begin to transition to an autocracy; if the Jan. 6 committee prevails (the J-Sixers), the country would remain a democracy, albeit one in need of strong, protective safeguards. (While not necessarily predictive of who would win, in the annual baseball game between members of Congress on July 28, the Republicans shut out the Democrats, 10-0.)

With the Washington Nationals sporting the worst record in baseball, a game at Nationals Park — just two miles from the White House — would be a boon to their flagging attendance. “We wanted to do something bold — something outside the (batter’s) box — to address the bitter divisions plaguing the country,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell agreed in a rare joint statement. “Right now, the Supreme Court nine and January 6 committee members are far and away the most influential teams in the country,” they said.

Confident with their super majority, the six extremist justices, agreed with the minority’s request that new teammate, Ketanji Brown Jackson, be their starting pitcher. “If she’s intentionally wild and walks in a lot of runs, or if she starts lobb(y)ing in pitches, we’ll bring Clarence (Thomas) in from far right field,” Supremes’ manager, and enthusiastic Big Lie supporter, Ginni Thomas, told reporters.

Intriguing questions abound: Would Elena Kagan (shortstop), Sonia Sotomayor (third base,) and, Brown Jackson, uh, play ball? Writing in an amicus brief, Joltin’ Joe Biden believes they will. “This is a big effing deal. They’re playing for the soul of the nation. Not a joke. Not a joke.”

“Since Spring training, the J-Sixers have been performing as World Series’ champions,” their manager, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told reporters. “All season long they have demonstrated their capacity to score a lot of runs. I’d put our best hitters — Jamie Raskin (2nd base), Adam Kinzinger (shortstop), Adam Schiff (1st base), and Elaine Luria, (left field) — up against any team in baseball.”

When play resumes in September, the J-Sixers will be riding an eight game winning streak. “From our captain, center fielder Benny Thompson, to our pitcher, Liz Cheney, I’m bullish about our chances,” the San Francisco Democrat said.

For her part, “LC,” as Ms. Cheney’s teammates refer to her, said at a recent practice, “I’m humbled to be pitching for the rule of law.”

Umpires for the game will be retired associate Supreme Court justices, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter. Former president George W. Bush, once a part-owner of the Texas Rangers, will introduce former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama with Mr. Obama singing the national anthem and Mr. Clinton accompanying him on saxophone. Mr. Obama told reporters he has agreed to lead fans in singing “Amazing Grace” during the seventh inning stretch.

“In determining either how best to protect our democracy, or how to prepare to become an autocracy, the 18 women and men taking the field will be performing a quintessential American rite,” former president Jimmy Carter said in remarks shared with the media in advance of his throwing out the first pitch.

“Democracy hangs in the balance,” the 97-year-old former president warned. “Autocracy waits in the wings. It’s time to play ball.”

Rob Okun (, syndicated by Peace Voice is editor of Voice Male, a magazine chronicling the antisexist men’s movement. He writes about culture and politics.
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