originally published November 6, 2012

Having grown up as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I never much liked the Washington Redskins. Of course, I live nowhere near an NFL city, and over time I’ve softened my loathing of the ‘Skins, especially since they acquired the most interesting draft pick this year, Robert Griffin III. I watched this Sunday’s game, hoping Washington would get the ball as much as possible, if only to see how many times Griffin would fool the camera guy with his deceptive play-fakes.

But this week there was more at stake. Once every four years, the media runs out of pre-election postulation ideas, and they look at the strangest voodoo they can find to pick a winner on Big Tuesday. The Redskins Rule always pops up now, probably because it has been so frighteningly accurate.

(which is more than I can say for the Redskins’ sack-bleeding offensive line this week)

Rumors of this phenomenon fluttered among the marble halls and paper-drenched offices of Washington as far back as 1992, but it was first thrown into the public spotlight for the 2000 election.

Here’s how it works: if the Redskins win their last home game before a presidential election, then the incumbent party wins on election day. If they lose, the other party will win control of the executive branch.

Sounds ridiculous? It sure as shit does to me. But we have had 18 elections going back to 1940, and the rule has been upheld every single time. Well, except once.

In 2004, the Redskins lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in their last pre-vote home game, which should have foretold a win for John Kerry. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Fortunately, the Internet is full of people who will explain anything to fit a pattern, so the rule was amended. Now the rule applies to the popular vote only – since Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, the Redskins loss in 2004 meant the popular vote would this time be won by the Republicans. And it was. So we’re still 18 for 18.

This is where the rule gets scary. The Redskins were unable to mount a comeback against the Carolina Panthers this Sunday, falling short by a score of 21-13, and theoretically assuring a win today for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

It’s time to throw out the Redskins rule. As much as I love the surreal coincidence of the thing, this is the year it must fail.

(Dammit, Lego-Cam-Newton, why couldn’t you have just thrown the game?)

America needs four more years of moving forward, not another triumph for the needs of the few. Speaking as an ineligible voter, trapped by the small-print loopholes of not technically being an American citizen and living a paltry six-hour drive from the closest American border, I am shocked that this election actually seems so close.

In 2008, I couldn’t find anyone in this corner of Canada (apart from one schmuck who was my supervisor at the time) who wasn’t rooting for an Obama win. Bush’s legacy as a war-mongerer (we only involved ourselves in one of the wars he had mongered) and an economy-butcherer were evident. He – and the Republican edifice he left behind – were loathed here, and this is the most backwards-ass conservative pocket of Canada.

In the four years since he was elected, Obama has set up health care for millions of previously uninsured Americans. In this country, public health care is as much a non-issue as you can find; even our right-wing parties have no interest in repealing it. Obama’s plan pushed things in the right direction. To put it in (surprisingly accurate) M*A*S*H terms, Obama’s ideals are more Hawkeye-ish, whereas the Republican opposition came off sounding like Frank Burns.

(birth issue)

Obama supports same-sex marriage. Romney does not. This isn’t even a gay-rights issue, this is a human rights issue. The only arguments I have ever heard against same-sex marriage (apart from the “next you’ll be wanting to marry your golden retriever” nonsense) are religion-based. Religion should, in theory, be wholly disconnected from the state by now. Since we are talking about marriage in the legal-rights realm, I don’t even understand why this is an issue.

Obama has supported protections against pay discrimination for women and others who might get shafted on their paychecks. Romney, despite the fact that he claims to have filled various office supplies full of women in his employ, aims to dismantle planned parenthood and has spoken out against Roe vs. Wade.

In his first week in office, Obama yanked the ban on stem-cell research, I suppose because he felt that actually curing disease was a good thing.

The economy slipped into its deepest modern-day rut about a year after Obama took office, a process that was set in motion by the policies of the Bush administration. I know, the housing market collapse can be traced back to the Clinton years too – Bush isn’t solely responsible for all of America’s ills. But since that rut, 4.5 million jobs have been created by the current administration.

Sure, 2.7 million of those jobs were hired specifically by Obama himself to clean and polish Air Force One, but hey, at least the guy is trying.

It has been well-documented that President Obama personally parachuted into Pakistan and uttered a classically cinematic catch-phrase just before killing Osama bin Laden – I think it was something like “It’s just been revoked!”. America is also in one less war than four years ago. That’s probably a good thing.

Where Romney and his macho goon, Paul Ryan, want to enable the wealthiest Americans to pay less in taxes (passing the savings onto you!), Obama has taken a different approach. He has his own tax cuts as well, like the ones he offered to 3.5 million small businesses so that they could provide health care coverage for their employees.

This list could keep going and going – check out this site if you want more reasons to pull the handle (or mark the form, or press the button, or squeeze the parrot – whatever happens in American elections) for Obama today.

America has been moving forward, despite the incessant fighting by the Republican uber-right to see Obama fail at whatever cost. I don’t know if the country can ever rise above its partisan lines in the sand, but as an outside observer, it just seems obvious which of these candidates is wearing the white hat here. Note that I just made a cowboy-movie reference, not a racial comment. Yikes.

So let’s kill off the Redskins Rule, even though it is deeply awesome that such a thing exists. Please vote today – don’t trust the masses to do it for you and pick the right winner. Remember, the masses kept According To Jim on the air for way too many seasons. Go out, vote, and vote with your conscience.

Also, go Cowboys. Or whoever. Just not the goddamn Patriots.

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