STAND OR KNEEL? Politicians Play to Their Bases in NFL Controversy

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) The NFL-protest controversy is playing out politically in unpredictable ways, with at least one embattled Democrat and at least one embattled Republican taking stances popular with their “base” voters rather than trying to straddle any sort of middle line.

Illinois's GOP Governor Won't Answer for State's Sanctuary Policy

Bruce Rauner/IMAGE: FoxNews via YouTube

Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of otherwise heavily Democratic Illinois, blasted the players in no uncertain terms – even though he also is a part-owner of an NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I strongly disagree with those who disrespect our flag and our anthem,” Rauner said in a statement to the newspaper Politico. “To me they are disrespecting the foundations of our country, the veterans who risked their lives for our democracy, and the men and women who fight every day and make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our liberties.”

As Politico then explained, this was an uncharacteristically bold stance come from “the most vulnerable governor in the country” who finds himself “in an unusually precarious spot as both governor and part-owner of an NFL team.”

PREVIOUSLY: NFL’s Goodell: Trump’s ‘Divisive Comments’ Show ‘Lack of Respect’

It could well be that Rauner was speaking out of personal conviction, but the media always looks for political motives – and, sure enough, Politico reported/speculated that “his strong response on the NFL firestorm could aid his efforts to connect with more conservative voters who are already questioning Rauner’s Republican credentials.”

In a sort of mirror-image display, Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, facing a tough re-election campaign next year in Republican-heavy Indiana, worried less about offending moderate patriots than he did about his own liberal party activists. Before hedging his bets a little, he harshly criticized the president for instigating the controversy.

Donnelly said Monday Trump’s comments “are dividing Americans instead of bringing them together.”

He added: “While I would choose to stand for the national anthem with my hand over my heart, I know that by and large these are men who care about and are involved in their communities.”

Donnelly’s defense of the players drew the attention of Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who is vying to take Donnelly’s Senate seat in 2018. Rokita issued a release blasting the senator for “demonstrating once again that despite all his rhetoric, he is with Washington liberal elites, not Hoosiers…. Liberals and media elites politicize sports like they politicize everything else to demonize anyone who rejects their radical agenda.  They hold up the disrespectful actions of athletes and celebrities as something heroic and deride anyone who disagrees.  Joe Donnelly’s liberal friends are dividing Americans, not Donald Trump.”

Another Republican congressman vying for Donnelly’s seat, Luke Messer, likewise Tweeted: “Stand for the national anthem. @realDonaldTrump is right. Athletes should stand and honor our great country.”

Three other Republican House members from Indiana, Trey Hollingsworth, Susan Brooks, and Jim Banks, also sided with Trump over the players.

On the Left, though, several Congressional Black Caucus members weren’t just siding with the players, but actually “taking a knee” in solidarity with them. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas actually kneeled down on the House floor, saying she wanted to place “racism under my knee.” She said that Trump’s words themselves amounted to “racism. You cannot deny it.”

Democrat Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who is white, also kneeled.

Black Reps. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and John Lewis of Georgia also outspokenly supported the players, and Rep. Al Green of Texas even threatened to force a vote on opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump for his comments.

Still, there are politicians in Washington who, like politicians are known to do, are ducking for cover. When Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, who is running for the Senate next year against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, challenged Manchin to take a stand on the Trump/NFL controversy, Manchin did not respond. It remains to be seen if taking no stand is seen as staying wisely above the fray, or instead is seen as a cowardly way to avoid a necessary arena.

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  • deborah evans

    I am with the athletes they have the right to protest. The black community has seen time after time young black men murdered by police. At what point is enough enough.

    • Stephen Pettine

      “The black community has seen time after time young black men murdered by police”

      While your statement is downright unfounded, why not castigate Chicaca’s outstanding record of black on black killings that truly befit the classification of murder?

      • William Merrell

        They have seen 1000% more being killed by blacks and, whites are killed by police also but in both cases, the majority are after a crime has been committed. SO, stop everyone stop doing the crimes and see what happens.

      • Allyx Young

        No matter what, it’s not a pretty picture. During 2012/2013, blacks committed an average of 560,600 violent crimes against whites, but whites committed only 99,403 such crimes against blacks. “This means blacks were the attackers in 84.9
        percent of the violent crimes involving blacks and whites.” These are DOJ numbers but the last year reported was 2008, the first year Obama was president. FYI

    • patriot1111

      maybe they should start obeying the Law for starters.

    • sherissky

      How is disrespecting our country and our vets going to help this problem? They have money and power go into the community’s & actually help. Their are real injustices & their are cases of not listing to the police. Education and trading in the police department as well as the community would do real good. Show boating and pissing people off just makes them care less about the root problem. Not the solution!

      • Bernie

        Start first by knowing when to use “their” and “there”.

        • sherissky

          So nothing to add ? Just criticizing my grammar adds no value to the conversation.

          • Bernie

            Another mistake.
            It’s not grammar.
            It’s not knowing the difference in the meaning of two words.
            Try again….

    • donald l

      cops killing blacks is bull black gangers killing black kids is the problem look at the body count on black kids in drive bys

    • J.B. Young

      Sympathy for criminals? The black men the police have shot are criminals.

    • john

      Young black men committing crimes and then fighting with police when they show up! Here’s a concept, stop committing crimes and the police won’t show up!!

    • Bernie

      The Black community has NOT seen, time after time young Black men MURDERED by police.
      But, you’re right. At what point is enough already with your non-factual blabber?

  • patriot1111

    college brainwashing at its best

    • richjack4

      Certainly not academic enrichment. First, biting the hand that feeds you is never a sound economic model. Second, the claim that blacks are killed disproportionately more by white officers than whites is a proven fallacy. Folks ought to go to the Harvard university website and read the stats!

  • Louie Rey

    An NFL stadium is NOT the place for these guys to file their grievances and certainly not during the playing of the national anthem. The fact of the matter is their lame attempt at “rectifying racial inequity” does no good whatsoever. If they really want to affect some change then they should show up at a mayor’s or a governor’s or a senator’s office and put forth their position. Anyone see any of them doing such? I didn’t think so. They just like the limelight but after the game they just go home and leave everyone else to their own devices. I have a suggestion though, why don’t they look to affect change to the fact that Blacks make up 13% of America’s population but are responsible for over 70% of violent crime in this country? Know why? It’s too hard and it’s also politically INcorrect.

    • John Rountree

      When you said “An NFL stadium is not the place . . .” it got me to thinling who owns these stadia?

      • Ramah Lee

        stadium is taxpayer funded, no refund to taxpayers, whiie their owner and players get rich!!

        • John Rountree

          So while these over-sized animals and their greedy-gut owners insult us they use our facilities. “O tempore . O morales, , ,”

      • Louie Rey

        There are very few, maybe even just one, that might be privately owned and that would be the stadium in Dallas where Jerry Jones is the owner. However, not only that stadium but I think all of the rest have corporate sponsors. The Dallas stadium is known as AT&T Stadium just like where the Giants and Jets play it’s called MetLife Stadium and so on. Taxpayers, along with bonds, are for the most part the ones behind these stadiums.

        • Papa Bear

          If Jerry Jones own it then why does the stadium have the AT&T Logo on its roof and called AT&T stadium?

          • Louie Rey

            It’s called a “sponsorship” deal. MetLife doesn’t own the stadium that the Giants and Jets play in but that’s what it’s called. Same thing for the Houston Texans who play in NRG Stadium. Virtually every stadium has a corporate sponsor. They pay millions upon millions to have their names displayed on the stadiums. The Mets play in CitiField but Citi Bank doesn’t own the team Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz do. This has been going on forever.

    • richjack4

      They should read Chris Kylie’s wife’s open letter on the matter! A bunch of spoiled brats that do not understand they are biting the hand that feeds them!

      • Louie Rey

        Talk about a true American hero. As big as all of these NFL players are not only are they midgets in comparison to Chris Kyle but they also don’t have the nerve to face his wife and do the same thing.

        • Jon Higley

          Speaking of Chris Kyle, I was fortunate to have met the wife of the soldier who was the scout for Chris. She was headed to her finals for getting her culinary degree that day. Very nice lady!

          • Louie Rey

            I bet his entire circle of friends were very nice, and patriotic, people. May God rest his soul.

  • Richard Muccillo MDDCM

    There was a movie with Larry Fishburn and Ice Tea –about the HOOD a few years ago–Fishburn warned his son to stay away from those guys in the hood–why –because if he hung with them he would end up dead—Fishburn told his son that those guys kill their own people not others–Smug character played by Ice Tea –brother killed and later he was also killed! Movie was full of drive bys by people in the HOOD!

  • Kim LaMela

    No Problem Americans will Stand and Win Against the Liberal Insanity that has Manifested in our Country, We all Know the Race Card is used about every 15 Seconds By Liberals and Democrats No matter what the Issue is, so it has become Meaningless to The Majority of Americans. As the Liberals Continue with the Destruction of America, Americans Flock to our Side, The Best Part they are not Leaving Anyone a reasonable other way to go but to Trump. It’s Sanity vs Liberal Insanity and the Destruction of our Country as we know it. Americans Thankfully are not all blind, deft and Dumb Liberals have Opened up the Eyes of Americans and now they know beyond any doubt we can never let the Liberals and Democrats run this country into the Ground, We know they are trying very hard to accomplish it. Stand and Vote for America.

  • J.B. Young

    They might try working with the youth in the black communities, instead of showing disrepect and contempt for a country that gave them the opportunity for such high paying jobs.

  • richjack4

    Obviously these athletes did not major in economics! Biting the hand that feeds you is never a sound economic model, especially when void of athletic ability, your best chances for employment are at McDonald’s!

  • James Goin

    Respect for the law. Not law enforcement THE LAW. Don’t shoot anyone and you won’t get shot.

  • stilldazed

    I served in the military to defend the players right to protest using their 1st amendment rights. However, in my opinion, to protest during the National Anthem is not the proper time or place and is disrespectful of the flag I fought (stood) for, the men I’ve known that were killed and wounded in combat, and the country it symbolizes. So, because of my opinion, I refuse to watch or support in any way with my time or money anyone/entity that dishonors or disrespects the flag or National Anthem. As it seems that the NFL, NBA and MLB haven’t learned yet that they are there to entertain customers by playing sports and not by playing worthless political games, I will support my local High School teams unless they pick up the poor and unsportsmanlike habits of the pros.

    • Linda Fogleman Kalkbrenner


  • William L. Ramsburg


  • Bernie

    As a man growing up on the South Side of Chicago (me),
    the REAL problem starts with the left-wing White supremacists that believe they know better than the people they think they’re helping.
    And, they have enablers like Sharpton and Jackson to assist them.

  • Murphmeister

    Ingratitude. The eighth deadly sin.

  • While the Constitution specifically provides for peaceful protest, desecrating America is not the way to do it. If someone does not like the way this country works, they are free to leave.

  • Harry Pearson

    Let’s face it folks, this issue is being handled very poorly on all sides. The sidelines of a professional sports event is not an appropriate venue nor time to be trying to make a political statement. If the players want to make changes in our society, I’d recommend that they take the forefront and demonstrate what they are capable of doing, open shelters for needy folks, fund scholarships for needy students, etc. There are numerous means of doing this, but disrespecting our country, our flag, our anthem, our military, our veterans, etc., is NOT one of them. Look for a means to show your inner self, but don’t do it by being so disrespectful of so many.

  • Mad Scientist

    Is there ANY politician in Washington with some cajones?

  • Gregg Parker

    there is no middle line to straddle in a honor or dishonor proposition. There is no middle. This is one issue where no pandering can create enough gray area in the middle for politicians to exist like they always do and say a lot of nothing… this one has them fer us or agin us…

  • Maggietish

    Wake up America the politicians who are supporting the NFL attack against our flag, our country our freedoms in our military need to be kicked out of office immediately. They took an oath of office to oppose the constitution of the United States in the laws of this land and to stand up for America and the American people and they’ve done none of that. As a matter fact, they have betrayed us. These politicians of joy all the perks of being an office but they have for too long forgotten that they were elected to serve. The majority of them are millionaires and enjoy lavish lifestyle is an exorbitant expense accounts or pay by the American taxpayers and they have the unmitigated gall to stand against our flag, our nation, our military and the splendor of this great nation. That’s A total betrayal to their oath of office and we The people need to kick these corrupt career do nothing anti-American politicians to the curb now

  • Those folks who kneel for the National Anthem don’t stand for anything. You stand or kneel before the Almighty. This is just some more crap designed to divide this country more. Keep it going and the blood will really start flowing in the the streets.

  • Glenn Hendriksn

    ….. the ‘one/only’ INDIVIDUAL who has divided America was the “great” FRAUD baraK ‘insane’ NObama which is rolling over today Sep 2017 and this INDIVIDUALs ‘devisiveness’ will continue to DIVIDE caucasians/negros now and into the future ! SAD/true …….

  • Jon Higley

    See what this is doing? Now we’re spending time on issues that generate divisiveness and angst between groups, rather than on issues which bring us together as citizens with common concerns for improving everyone’s standard of living. Every time ANYONE – I don’t discriminate – comes into where I work, I greet them them with “Welcome, Sir!” or Welcome, Ma’am!” and a smile. I’ve never once had someone tell me I’m racist because of this treatment. They usually smile & nod their head at me. I’m sick & tired of these social-justice warriors stirring the pot of racial division and distracting us from accomplishing some positive outcomes we need to move forward.