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Karie Meltzer Headshot

Why Bandwagons Aren't All Bad

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Someone asked me the other day if I was excited about the Texas Rangers being in the World Series. I'm from Arlington, and yes, I think it's awesome, despite their loss tonight. I thought it was a silly question, but the person who asked said they keep hearing people say they don't care about their historically crappy team just because they are suddenly good.

For a short time, the Rangers bandwagon had some riders. Now that the excitement of the Cheesecake Factory and an ice skating rink opening at Parks Mall has subsided, Arlington needed something to get excited about. San Francisco gets to celebrate, but they already have wine, a coastline, architecture and public transportation. Greedy.

There are still some people who think it's silly to jump on a bandwagon just because a team is suddenly good. Those people are usually die-hard fans or just plain ol' haters who were equally pissed when everyone else started liking The Arcade Fire.

To hell with them.

Americans have few shared experiences anymore. We customize everything so that we consume whatever entertainment or information we want at the precise time we want it. We can scroll through commercials, download any film or watch the only news we agree with. We don't have to listen to the radio or watch network television or vote to function as happy, healthy people. We are all supposed to be so unique that bandwagons have become a thing of scorn.

Events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl are exceptions, and perhaps pop culture like "American Idol" or major news like a presidential inauguration. Mainly, we live in our personalized iWorld. Until something comes along to shake it up.

The New Orleans Saints. President Barack Obama. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. The Tea Party. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Rangers and The Giants. They are leaders of their own bandwagons, and they give us something watch, think and talk about together.

Sports and politics? Maybe they aren't so different. Both have heroes and punching bags. (Still figuring out which category Brett Favre belongs to.) Both need money and the media to function. We want both to be clean and honorable, and neither ever are. A lot of people who never cared about politics before care about it now, just like I never bothered to watch football until the Saints inspired me as a Tulane student in post-Katrina New Orleans. Caring is so much more fun than not caring.

Maybe they lost their job. Maybe they are fed up with their local school system. Either way, people are paying more attention. It doesn't matter if you've never cared about politics until now, you can care on Election Day.

On Tuesday, you can jump on the bandwagon of civic participation and vote. It isn't as exciting as, say, a handlebar mustache, Ray-Bans or fancy cupcakes, but I promise you'll feel good when you get that sticker.

Like a Saints fan this season, you might end up disappointed when the polls close. But at least you can say you were there and you rallied behind something that matters to you.

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