As pollsters are gearing up for what looks to be an unforgettable political battle come this November, we have a hunch as to who is going to come out on top in this presidential election. No, it’s not Obama. And, no, it isn’t Romney, either. It’s not even a write-in candidate. Nope, the real winner of this election is going to be the longstanding incumbent, Alphabet Soup. Incumbent Soup has used several shorthand monikers in the past, some of which include NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and FOX. And though his name never seems to appear on any ballot, rest assured that he’s there, and he hasn’t lost an election in years.
You see, the networks are like the promoter who pits two fighters against each other. No matter what the outcome is, he gets paid, while the boxers in the ring are the ones getting their clocks cleaned. So the pugilists take risks while the promoter and his groupies sit safely in their air-conditioned box seats. Sweaty trunks or pressed suits? Which would you rather wear?
Of course, one could make the case that the promoter takes all the financial risks of the event. After all, if he doesn’t get the word out, no one will know about the fight. And if no one shows up to watch, it has been a colossal waste of time, energy and expense. Point taken. But the question we should be reflecting on is, “Where is the promoter’s money coming from?” Answering that question may show us that the promoter is taking fewer risks than we might think.
The irony of Alphabet Soup’s campaign is that it’s actually funded by the other candidates. When they or the super PACs that support them raise truckloads of cash, large percentages are willingly funneled right into Soup’s coffer. How’s that for redistribution of wealth? The guys throwing punches are the same guys who are paying people to cheer for them (nobody ever said self-aggrandizement was cheap). What’s even more noteworthy is that while Candidate Soup often berates free-market capitalism, he has no qualms with taking other people’s money for services rendered. He has the ambidextrous ability to wag a finger with one hand while simultaneously using the other to write invoices. Maybe that’s a gift, but we’re beginning to think that we should send Soup two washcloths for Christmas … one for each face.
So, the one who benefits the most is not the most effective fundraiser. It isn’t the one with the best zinger during a debate. It isn’t even the one declared the winner after a 12th-round knock-out punch. The big winner of this match is the one who’s figured out a sure-fire way of enlarging his accounts, power and influence no matter what happens. Talk about “heads I win, tails you lose.”
But then again, this is the system in which we live. It could be argued that the best way to get the word out en masse remains certain media outlets, many of which we don’t trust for unbiased news and messaging in the first place. So is this a plea to pull political ads from television and radio and only use word of mouth? Is this a call to stop schlepping money over to networks and instead use our resources to make painted, butcher-paper signs like junior high kids do when they run for ASB secretary? Hardly.
This is a friendly reminder from two pastors that reaching the masses is important, but talking openly about key issues with individuals you meet will go further than you’d think. You might not have enough resources to get a network’s attention, but you have a voice and a circle of influence that money can’t buy. Proverbs 8:11 reminds us that wisdom is far greater than rubies. Speaking truth in our culture of lies can have a weightier impact on people than political ads that tend to distort reality more than a fun-house mirror. So when you talk with people about the issues we face as a country and who is best suited to lead, give them something to sink their teeth into, something worth chewing on. In other words, give them more meat and less soup.