THE BLOG
08/14/2012 10:13 am ET Updated Oct 14, 2012

The Olympics & American Politics

Progressive Point of the Day: This is part of a series of brief pieces that offer suggestions to the Obama campaign and progressives on effective points to raise and ways to frame their argument. Consider it an advice column for Democrats, who have been having messaging problems for years. Despite the "Point of the Day" tag, it will not appear every day, but it will appear often between now and the election.

Now that the London Olympics have come to their conclusion after fourteen almost flawless days, it is obvious that Mitt Romney was mistaken when he suggested prior to the start of the games that the city and Great Britain might not to be up to the task.

There is no reason to dwell on that faux pas. There are, though, a few other points from the Olympics that are worthy of mention in the current American political context.

One is that Republicans are constantly wailing that American greatness is being undermined by President Obama and his policies. The best American showing ever in a fully contested Olympics (the 1984 Games in Los Angeles were boycotted by the Soviet bloc), with this nation's athletes winning significantly more, both in overall medals and in gold medals, than runner-up China, suggests that the United States may not be in quite such a precipitous decline.

Considerably more to the point is that all the "conservatives" cheering "USA! USA! USA!" for the American athletes need to realize that the American medal haul would have been much smaller were it not for the supposedly intrusive government policies that they condemn.

Women won 63 percent of the American medals in London. Can anyone seriously contend that the number of great female athletes representing the United States would have been anywhere near that large had Title IX not been enacted in 1972?

And then there are the numerous record-setting African Americans. Of course there were great African American athletes before the Brown decision in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act a decade later. But those "intrusive, Big Government" actions, which were so despised by most regressives ("conservatives"), helped lead to the full integration of university sports teams throughout the nation. Surely that also increased the number of American medal winners, though not as dramatically as Title IX did with the nation's female medal winners.

This is, in fact, an excellent example of the interplay between individual achievement and the groundwork that enables those achievements that President Obama was talking about in the "you didn't build that" speech that Republicans have so distorted. Of course the individual athletes who won the medals deserve the credit for their achievements. But many of them never would have had the opportunity to develop their individual talents to the Olympic level had it not been for sensible, needed government actions.

Much as all those internet millionaires and billionaires could not have done it entirely on their own, without the government having developed the internet, the United States would not have won the Olympics without Title IX, the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act.

Sensible government interference - what's it good for?

Winning at the Olympics, among many other things.