I was sitting in my living room just now trying to remember which article I wanted to write today. As I fell asleep last night my head was full of ideas but when I woke up this morning they had all evaporated.
At first I thought my big idea was the Pep Guardiola piece (why Pep is struggling in England) that I keep putting off but I’m not writing that until I watch the City v. Spurs match. I want to observe them in a big game.
Then, I thought I wanted to write a piece about Joel Matip and Liverpool. For those who don’t know, Liverpool are not playing Matip at the moment because there is some confusion over his eligibility. From what I gather, Matip is being accused of the dreaded “refusing to play” for his national side after they sent him a call up. Under FIFA rules players have no right to refuse a national team call up and can be compelled to play for their national team. If the player refuses (or claims he’s “retired”) and the national team objects to that refusal, the player can be banned from playing for his club side for a term equal to the term he would have played for the national team.
How this FIFA rule is legal is beyond my pay scale. This looks like indentured servitude at best and something akin to slavery at worst. But FIFA need this rule to ensure that the good players will play for them during all of their various money-spinning “friendlies”. If Ronaldo and Bale can say “naw, I’m not playing in March because I’d rather rest up and be fresh for my club’s title push and Champions League campaign” their National teams won’t have an attractive product to put on the field and fewer people will attend their matches. Meaning less revenue for FIFA.
But this is a situation I’ve written about many times before and I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing will change until a player takes FIFA to court. Will Matip be that player? He does stand to suffer potential damages, as does his club, for being left out of his club side while this dispute rages on. But if Cameroon force the issue, and FIFA follow through with the punishment they are supposed to dole out, Matip will be ineligible to play for Liverpool for another two months. He could easily lose his starting position in the center of defense in that time.
What about Arsenal? Arsenal have traditionally had a single problem that the opposition exploited. What I mean is, for example, counter attacks. The 2007-2010 vintage Arsenal sucked at killing off counters. Teams would sit deep and hit Arsenal on the counter, score with their first shot on target, and then sit deep again. Then came the period where Arsenal were vulnerable to aerial balls. We still are to some extent but that seems like less of a threat now days. Then it was corners. Then crosses. And so on. But looking at the data from this season, our goals allowed don’t show a clear pattern. Which is good! At first I thought Arsenal don’t have a pattern but then I realized that the pattern we seem to have is getting off to a slow start but finishing games well (Arsenal lead the League in goals in the last 15 minutes). So, that Article isn’t going to work.
And I could write about Arsenal v. Burnley but I’m going to write about that tomorrow. There are some surprises in there with Burnley that could make this match on Sunday a real show in the last 15 minutes.
But what’s looming large for me right now is the inauguration of Donald Trump.
I was making coffee when I realized that Trump represents fundamental truths about America that most of our citizens don’t want to face.
The first truth is that we have been arguing over which type of “big leader” will take care of us since the inception. What I mean by that is that America is split into two large groups: those who believe that the government can best take care of us and those who believe that the rich and their corporations can best take care of us.
Which do you believe? That the government will protect you or that the marketplace will protect you? It doesn’t make you wrong to believe in either of those, or the more hipster idea that “a combination of the two” is the best, but notice it is that desire to cede power to another force, a larger force, which actually binds both of these ideologies together. That is the fundamental flaw of modern American democracy. We want someone else to do it for us. This is what causes the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the elite. We are willing to pay, whether it is in terms of taxes or in terms of capitalist costs, to have someone else run our lives.
And life is so complicated, there are so many people and the world is so integrated, that it’s impossible to escape needing these huge government/business structures in place in order to keep things running. We can hardly all go live on Walden, raise beans, and write 10,000 words describing the mud flowing down the banks of our pond. The idea of “self-sufficiency” in the face of our modern complexity is yet another of the great American myths that needs to die a quick death. We are actors on a global stage now, there can be no self-sufficiency, no pulling myself up by my bootstraps.
The second truth is that our institutions represent us. This isn’t going to go down well but Trump perfectly represents modern America: a rich baby, with thin skin, who hurls insults at celebrities on twitter; a whiny, entitled, teenager who (despite overwhelming evidence of privilege) constantly feels as if they are the victims in this world; a racist; a misogynist; a people who live in constant fear of the “other”; and a people whose response to any act of terror is to “turn them into a glass parking lot”.
We are all of those things, but the good news is that we are also all of the things that our outgoing president Obama represents: we are classy, intelligent, and act in what we think are the best interests of the people; we fundamentally care about people who have less than us or who are downtrodden; we struggle with our conscience over acts of war; we stand up to bullies; we protect and love the women in our lives; and we try every day to do our best for ourselves and our fellow man.
I can hear at least one of you right now saying “HA, Obama is all the good and Trump all the bad, fuck this libtard” and if it makes you feel better, please go ahead and swap Obama and Trump’s names. The people are but mere symbols, they are us. It’s not just that Trump or Obama is all of those things, I’m saying that you and I are all of the good and the bad of our society. You and I are Trump. We are Obama. We made them in our image.
And going back to that first truth, the abnegation of our own power, we need to stop pretending that voting is the only act of democracy. Trump is going to put his hand on the bible in a few minutes but that doesn’t mean you can go to sleep for the next four years, no matter how tempting that may seem, democracy isn’t over, the world isn’t ending.
“Choose or lose” was the MTV motto when I was growing up. It was meant to make us youngs all go out and vote. But the reality is that if all you do is choose – if you don’t participate and I mean truly participate in the democratic process; if you don’t call your Senators, talk to your friends and neighbors, try to find solutions to the problems – then choosing is losing. And if you choose to go to sleep for the next four years then you’re choosing to give all of your power over to Trump.