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September 11, 2009

Three Point Five Yards

I had a flash of inspiration last Thursday. After work, my father and I hopped in the car & drove up to Ames to see Iowa State open their season against North Dakota State (they won, if you're wondering). As I was watching the start of another year's worth of college football, with all the hope and pride that it brings to fans all around the country, I had an insight.

Three Point Five Yards.

Now those of you who know football realize that a 3.5-yard gain is nothing for the highlight reels. We're talking about 10.5 feet, or 126 inches if you prefer to think on that scale.


Three point five yards is 3.5% of the distance between the goal lines. It's almost in the category of "statistical insignificance". Nobody really goes nuts for a 3.5-yard gain, unless the play started from inside the opponent's three yard line, of course.

What makes this a magic number is the structure of football. Each team has four plays to gain ten yards, and a 3.5-yard average lets your team move the first down markers after third down, avoiding the dreaded "fourth down conversion attempt".

Three point five yards on its own is nice, but nothing special. A drive where the team AVERAGES three point five yards per play? You'll wind up doing your best "Ocho Cinco" impression in the end zone while the defense wonders what went wrong.

THAT is what the Tea Party Movement and Glen Beck's "czar" safari has done for the conservative movement: We've relearned the value of a steady ground game. None of the August recess Town Hall meetings gave conservatism a victory at the ballot box, and "Astronaut" Jones' removal isn't going to change the fact that Marxists are camped out in the White House. They were all minor skirmishes in a larger campaign....but when you bring them all together and look at how much the game has changed over the summer, you can see a trend. Just a few weeks ago, we were looking at a 60-seat Senate for the Democratic Party and a clear road to a signing ceremony for Cap & Trade, Card Check, Immigration "reform" and health care restructuring. Now, in September? The tea leaves have become murky again.

Back in February, if you would have told me that Sarah Palin would be striking mighty blows at the Obama administration using her bully pulpit of.........a social networking site? I would have advised you to Put. Down. The. Crack. Pipe. And congresscritters running scared from their constituents and resorting to obvious stunts like planting ACORN/SEIU activists in their audiences? Never in a million years.

Conservatives in America haven't accomplished anything lasting during the last few months, but they HAVE laid the groundwork for a big swing in the direction of this country. And that fracking rocks!

So, if you're a "teabagger"; hold your head high. If you believe that private industry, even with all the blemishes and warts we see in its inner workings, will ALWAYS be better for America than government doing that same job; keep pouring your heart out to your fellow Americans. If you believe that America is still capable of being "that shining City on a Hill"; do your part to make your part of that city shine just a little bit more than it did yesterday.

Incrementalism is more than just a tactic for getting people to accept unacceptable ideas without realizing that those ideas are corrosive: it can also be a force for positive change. Just because you can't change the world on a 30-minute sitcom timeframe, doesn't mean that your time trying to affect that change was wasted.

Get your ass out there and put in the time. Improve your neighborhood. Improve your City. Improve your State. Chip away at federal issues and try to move the ball forwards. Always move the ball towards the goal. Demand that your leadership, whether that leadership consists of political partisans on a national level or just the president of your local Rotary or Garden Club, be accountable for keeping the momentum going in the right direction.

NEVER rest on your laurels. You can sleep when you're dead. When you accomplish a realistic goal, take a moment to savor the victory & then get right back in the fight. In the "ACORN" thread I was reading here just a few minutes ago, commenter Bosk repeated an old, but appropriate, joke.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

The momentum is on our side, people. Grab onto the rope and give it a tug before the other side manages to recover. We didn't get into this situation overnight, and getting out of it is going to take a lot of hard work; but the alternative is unacceptable.

My son turns 18 months old today, and I'd love to have him grow up in a world where people can still strive for the American Ideal. A world where a hardworking young man can grow up to be a leader & make a difference in his world. He might never become President of the United States of America, but he can always set his sights on excellence. Small businessmen, Scoutmasters, Dungeonmasters, or even the guy who builds the most kickass trebuchet in his backyard (allowing his kids to launch packages of bacon & autographed copies of "Stuff Jefferson Said, Volume III" into the yard of the patchouli-drenched free-range vegan co-op down the street) are all people who can take pride in their achievements. Be one of them, and do your part to help America secure its future.

(If you're one of those people who have worked to make a difference this last year, take this post as an "ATTABOY" and a platonic slap on the rear. If you're someone who's waiting on the sidelines, take this post as an invitation to get in the game. If you're someone who wants to take issue with my exclusive use of male examples in the preceeding paragraph, lighten up Francis. I'm just a proud papa imagining a big destiny for my baby boy. He may never grow up to stand before millions of cheering supporters at a political rally celebrating his victory; but if I do my job right, he just might grow up to be a stand-up guy who makes everything he touches just a little bit better.)

Now, I'm off. Iowa State is playing Iowa tomorrow morning, and I'm headed up to Ames to party with the gang at the tailgating bus. Enjoy the weekend, morons.

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 09:12 PM

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