Opinion: Why Election Day is like Tribal Council


By the Rev. Todd Hester

I do appreciate everyone’s thoughts and phone calls, but I’m just fine. The shakes are over, and the anxiety has settled significantly.

Yes, now that we are back into the fall TV schedule, my “Survivor” withdrawal has ended in sweet resolution. Stephenie and Bobby Jon are back from last season, the old guy got voted off first again, Jeff Probst has more witty things to say, the locale is exotic and beautiful, and everything is as it should be. Now, on Thursday nights, I can sit back and watch scantily clad people stab one another in the back for no more noble purpose than a million bucks. Just the type of recreation my seminary professors suggested to wind down after a day at the church!

This season I’m thinking about including another adventure with attractive individuals in the forest: “Lost.” Or if I want something more urban, I could try “The Apprentice” – either the rehashed Trump version or the emasculated Martha Stewart version. In fact, now that I think about it, there do seem to be a lot of TV shows on about folks in the jungle. Predators are on the loose in “Criminal Minds,” the “CSI” team is on the hunt, and there’s a reason the title is “Desperate Housewives.” Hey, it’s a jungle in Suburbia, too.

What is interesting to me is how a group of people works to be successful in the wilderness, whether it be the topographical wilderness of Guatemala or the moral wilderness of Las Vegas. It seems like the ones who “make it” are the ones who build the team up, the ones who can create consensus. Yes, backstabbing is the mode du jour on “Survivor,” but only after a strong sense of unity is forged. If all you can do is cut others down, put out your torch – you’re going home.

So I have an idea: I’m betting we can make a fortune – and almost pay off Embassy Square – if we host a reality show right here in Henderson. The game will be called something catchy like “Jungle Boogie,” and it will be played in two stages.

We’ll call the first stage “Election” (how’s that for originality?), and a group of, let’s say, 16 people will run for office. We’ll have, just for hypothetical purposes, eight council seats and a mayoral seat – nine seats total. The candidates will have almost unlimited access to multiple media, and they can say and do anything they like, with little or no fact verification to stymie them. Remember, it’s a reality show.

Everyone is safe until the end of Stage 1, which will of course be halfway through the fall season during ratings sweeps. At this point, just like “American Idol,” the public gets to vote, and somebody has to pack. The field is cut by seven; then, the second half of the show begins (which could aptly be titled “Fantasy Island,” except there’s no plane, boss, no plane).

In this stage, each player tries to build consensus around what’s best for the group. The person who wins will be the one who can generate as much support as possible behind her or his agenda without resorting to such negative tactics as grandstanding, name-calling, spit balls, or incendiary references to garbage pickup or water contracts. This consensus building carries on to the delight and amusement (and, let’s face it, amazement) of the viewing public until the climax of the show, whereupon the winner is named.

And what does the winner get? Isn’t it obvious? In addition to the glowing adulation of the adoring masses, the winner gets such handsome rewards as unemployment somewhere close to the national and state averages, low crime, low school dropouts, increased economic development, low teen pregnancy, and an overwhelming sense of civic pride and responsibility – a veritable cornucopia of gifts!

Hey, that’s a lot better than a million bucks, and the council candidates don’t have to be scantily clad.

Yeah, I know. Right now that may not seem like much of a reality show, and Henderson does seem like a jungle at times, but Oct. 11 is right around the corner, and here’s hoping that the constituency of Henderson pays attention this time around and chooses a few consensus builders. Otherwise, it may be us getting voted off the island.

The Rev. Todd Hester is the pastor of Cotton Memorial Presbyterian Church and, in the editor’s opinion, has an amazing grasp of grammar for someone from South Carolina.