Fans from rival baseball teams may be passionately loyal and give each other a lot of grief, but they all respect each other’s love of the game. Consequently, they are able to work together to defend the importance of rules banning doping and betting. Without those rules, none of them can trust that a win is really a win.
The same logic should be applied to democracy. We should feel free to push hard for our favored policies and representatives, but we should all share a fundamental understanding that none of us can trust the legitimacy of an election or a policy vote if the rules are changed or ignored.
We should all understand that very few of us would have a vote or a political voice if we collectively fail to defend constitutional and legal limits on political behavior. By way of example, consider the ongoing crisis in Venezuela where the Chavistas have entrenched themselves by incrementally freezing out all opposition starting in 1999. Hyper-inflation and food shortages emerged due to the lack of any effective political opposition to counter unsustainable populist policies.
Our attitude and deeds can have a lot of impact on the quality of our democracy, up to and including its’ potential collapse. Each new insult can become the proverbial straw that will break the camel’s back. The founding fathers knew this:
“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.” – Samuel Adams
“No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.” – George Mason
Photo credit: David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch