In a news conference in which they repeatedly discussed their concern about vitriolic partisan division, the managers of the Democratic and Republican teams for the Congressional Baseball Game declared that the game will go on.
Members of Congress will play each other in the decades-old game at Nationals Park on Thursday evening as scheduled. Attendees at the game will be asked to contribute to a charity supporting the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, in recognition of Wednesday’s shooting which left two officers wounded, in addition to the three planned charities which support D.C. children.
“We’re not going to let incidents like this change our way of life or our daily routine. We’re going to go ahead and play the ballgame,” Democratic manager Rep. Michael Doyle (Pa.) said.
Those not attending the game can also donate online and may be able to watch the game on C-SPAN. In recent years, the game has raised more than a half-million dollars annually for local charities.
Doyle expressed hope that the congressmen showing the nation their lighthearted, united side as they play a summer game of baseball together would set a meaningful example. “When the leadership of this country is civil to each other, maybe the country will be civil, too, and the news media will be civil,” he said. “We can change the mood of this country.”
Republican manager Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.) said many of Congress’s long-standing institutions aim to promote respect despite differences, from the baseball game to the language used on the House and Senate floors. “You can be intensely political without being personal. A lot of the traditions of the House are designed to defuse personal animosity: ‘the gentleman from Pennsylvania,’ ‘my good friend from Texas.’ ”
He blamed numerous modern trends on eroding that bonhomie — including harsher political ads demonizing members of Congress, members traveling more frequently to their districts rather than spending time getting to know each other outside of work hours, and the instantaneous news updates available online.
The managers also offered assurance that Nationals Park will be highly secure Thursday night, and said that perhaps in future years, the teams should beef up security at their practices.
“I bet you most members of Congress would tell you they don’t want any personal detail. I certainly don’t. I’ve never felt unsafe here or in Pittsburgh,” Doyle said. “But I do think when you have a situation where you have 20 or 30 or 40 members of Congress all in one place, in a completely open place that anybody can walk straight through, I do think maybe we should be rethinking that a little bit.”
There was a Capitol Police officer present, parked in a car about 500 feet away, during the Democrats’ practice this morning too, Doyle said. The Republican practice had two officers, out of their car, because Scalise, as the majority whip, has a security detail.