Commentary, Entertainment

Gary Johnson: Leaders Should Set Football Drama Aside and Make Decisions to Protect Us

Millions of people in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean are dealing with a natural disaster of epic proportion. Hospital patients are dying as generators run out of fuel, and the communications infrastructure is so damaged that we can’t even ascertain the full extent of the devastation and the needs for help.

Residents, communities and businesses in Texas, Louisiana and Florida are still working to recover from earlier hurricanes. For some, that recovery will require years.

North Korea is “declaring war” on the U.S. – the latest escalation in a war of threats that might be entertaining if Kim Jong-un weren’t playing with nuclear fireworks and a very real army.

And, once again, our Congress is stumbling over its own feet rather than actually doing anything to avert the train wreck that is Obamacare, a train wreck that involves not just 17 percent of the economy, but millions of Americans left with no clue as to whether health care will actually be accessible, much less affordable.

And we’re talking about football players taking a knee?

So what are talking about? We’re talking about football players taking a knee during the Star Spangled Banner. And our President is calling them Sons of B*#ches for doing so and tweeting daily updates about NFL TV ratings.

It’s official. We have fallen through the looking glass.

Don’t misunderstand. Free Speech is important. Professional athletes can kneel if they feel it important to do so. The President can tweet about it. You and I can approve or disapprove of either one. That’s what we do in America.

It’s not new, and the issues behind the athletes’ gestures are important. We absolutely must face and deal with the reality that our criminal justice system and some of those who administer it treat minorities differently.

But it’s unfortunate when the reasons for public protests or gestures are lost in the drama and the politics of division.

It’s even more unfortunate when that drama and politics of division – in the hands of the politicians and media alike – are used to misdirect attention from tragedies taking place on our own soil, very real threats abroad and issues such as health care that touch each and every American.

Easier to talk about flag etiquette than about health insurance

And make no mistake. This misdirection isn’t an accident. For too many politicians, it’s a lot easier to talk about flag etiquette than about health insurance premiums, foreign policy dilemmas or how we are going to pay for what will undoubtedly be hundreds of billions of dollars in disaster relief.

We have very real issues to deal with, including those behind the actions of professional football players.

But it is the job of our President and our Congress to set the drama aside – not inflame it – and make the tough decisions, face the vexing issues and shape policies that help keep us safe, protect our liberties and our property, and insure that future generations actually have the opportunity to watch a football game on Sunday afternoon, regardless of whether the players are standing or kneeling.

Good government is actually not difficult. Someone just needs to do it.

(Photo of members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, in Glendale, Arizona, by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.)