Long Shots: Olympics and Politics

16 Feb

My definition of a long shot: Any person, idea, or movement which has nearly every obstacle ahead of them imagined to complete a goal, yet still goes after it and completes it or some other unintentional and/or unstated goal.  I’ve started thinking about these ‘long shots’ because of the Sochi 2014 Olympics currently going on.

Of course, there is the Jamaican bobsled team made (more) famous by the movie Cool Runnings.  The fictionalized movie was based on the real 1988 4-man Jamaican bobsled team in Calgary, Canada.  The team during these Olympics in Russia, however, was decided to just be a 2-man team due to the increased costs of 4 people.  Even then, right before the Olympics, they still needed more than $30,000 for a lot of related costs; however, they not only reached that, but received almost $50,000 more than they needed which helped with some upgrades to the bobsled.

Jamaican Bobsled Team Qualifies for 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

via bleacherreport.com

I was excited to see, because of my Filipino heritage, the only athlete from the Philippines to compete in these Winter Olympics, Michael Christian Martinez.  He is the first Filipino Winter Olympian since the country sent “an Alpine skier to the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France” (New York Times) and the first figure skater.  I really don’t know that much about him, but I’m just glad that he got the funding from his family and the government because winter sports are extremely expensive and it’s just a shame that more people are not able to at least try it out due to costs.  And he didn’t do too bad, he got 19th place, so not bad at all.

EVERYTHING ON THE LINE. With little government support, the family of Michael Christian Martinez's family mortgaged their home to send him to Sochi. Photo by Andrej Isakovic/AFP

via rappler.com

On to politics, currently in the state houses, the most lopsided majorities/minorities are usually in the upper house, because statistically, the lower the number of officials from the same(-sized) area, the greater the difference from the mean will be the actual election results – just think of the opposite of the Law of Large Numbers.  The Wyoming Senate has a 26-4 Republican majority, an 87-13 majority in percentages .  The Hawaii Senate has an even larger majority, Democrats overwhelming control that chamber with a 24-1 majority, or a 96%-4% majority.  Now maybe those in the minority might not be able to get their policies passed, but they will (be more likely to) have their voices heard and might be able to do some good, albeit usually on the edge/periphery (Honolulu Star Advertiser).

With respect to elections, the two people I regard highly in regards to election long shots – which does NOT mean that I support or oppose their particular policies and will NOT be discussing in this post – are Sarah Palin and Scott Brown.

First, Sarah Palin’s electoral history – to me at least – is just unmatched.  After being elected to the Wasilla City Council in 1992, she ran against the sitting incumbent in 1996 and won (Anchorage Daily News).  Then, won against him again in 1999 (Wasilla has 3-year mayoral terms).  After losing the Lieutenant Governor’s race in 2002, 2nd in a field of 5 by less than 3% (2002 Primary Alaska Election Official Results), she ran for governor in 2006 on a clean-government platform (New York Times) beating the incumbent of her own party and then beating former 2-term governor, Tony Knowles (2006 General Alaska Election Unofficial Results).  She was then selected as the first woman vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party by Sen. John McCain…but no matter what you think of her, no one can deny that she currently has media staying power like no other (SarahPAC).

Sarah Palin

via thehollywoodgossip.com

In regards to former Massachusetts State Senator and United States Senator Scott Brown, his win in the special election to fill then-recently deceased Ted Kennedy over the Commonwealth’s Attorney General Martha Coakley was just purely surprising and the definition of an underdog winning (POLITICO).  Let me try to describe to you the context: Democrats held the governorship and super majorities in each chamber of the state senate, Democrats held all U.S. congressional seats, Democrats held both U.S. Senate seats, Obama won every county with at least 50% of the vote and with a state-wide margin over Sen. John McCain of more than 25%.  Even though his time in the U.S. Senate was short-lived – losing in the 2012 elections to Elizabeth Warren (The Washington Post) – he has become a model to all Republicans who want to win in a blue district or state.  He was or is still being talked about for the U.S. Senate election in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts for 2014 and the U.S. Presidency in 2016.

Scott Brown

via csmonitor.com

Bottom Line: Whatever you want to do, just go for it.  You may not see the effects of what you are doing right away, but I assure you it is affecting you and the few, the thousands, millions, or even billions who are following, or will be following, you.  Others may ascribe to you being a long shot at the present time, but that seems to almost always precede being called a leader.

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Boris Shor, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dep't of Political Science, U. of Houston

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