Yesterday I posted The Chair Shot Part One. Today, let’s continue the discussion.
In a recent article in “The New Yorker”, Avi Steinberg profiled the WWE, and in particular an effort by wrestler and former U.F.C. champion Brock Lesnar’s return to wrestling and his recent fight with WWE superstar John Cena. Lesnar’s return to the WWE was part scripted and part what he wanted (to bring legitimacy back to professional wrestling). According to Steinberg:
“The W.W.E.’s current storyline for Lesnar, of a hideously angry, mid-career champ who returns to the league believing that he’s the only authentic fighter in a world of imposters and clowns isn’t just a gimmick cooked up by the writers. It speaks to Lesnar’s actual situation. It also makes for wicked good TV…The W.W.E. understands the heart of its American male audience and, as usual, gives them a brightly lit stage on which to work out some very real conflicts.”
Here is the point. A massive entertainment industry, like the WWE, believes it knows what the American people want. There are 535 voting members of Congress, 9 Supreme Court Justices, a President and Vice-President with a cabinet of 20 members who seem to have no clue as to what the American people want or need. Sure they have some theories, like an improved health care system, but they miss the boat on most of the issues and make issues of out things that are not issues at all.
To get to the heart of why the WWE knows how to run a business and the government does not, I sat down with die-hard WWE fan Gabe Fig to ask him his thoughts on the matter.
PS: Is there anything that you think Obama or Romney could learn from the WWE?
GF: Yes. Stick with what works and get rid of what doesn’t. Behind all of the glitz, glam, championship belts, and the superstars there exists a company that is out to please the people. Pleasing the people equals a big profit. Obviously, government doesn’t exist necessarily to “make a profit”; however, they SHOULD operate to be fiscally sound. Here’s an argument I recently made:
The US currently spends about $721 billion per year on defense. If that total was reduced to $243 billion we’d still be spending more than twice as much as China (which is #2 on the defense spending scale). Now, here’s where I always get a lot of heat: Much of that defense spending is spent on the “War on Terror”. But, let’s look at some numbers: 2,819 people died during the 9/11 attacks, but the US tops that every FOUR DAYS with approximately 3,284 deaths from “illnesses directly caused or worsened by being overweight”. The National Institutes of Health says it “invests over $30.9 billion annually in medical research for the American people.” So, beyond just unsustainable spending we have fiscal policies that really make no sense at all, but I’m sure it helps some politicians sleep well at night under a big, cozy blanket of self-importance.
Vince McMahon would NEVER spend an exorbitant amount of money developing & “pushing” (read promoting) a wrestler that just doesn’t have the potential to be a main-eventer. Sometimes they do and the results just don’t yield anything. Take “The Miz”. He headlined WrestleMania 27 as the WWE Champion and at WrestleMania 28 he had only a small supporting role in a 6-man tag match (12 men total, meaning 2 teams with 6 members). When that doesn’t work, they change and evolve until they find something that works. So, that’s what Obama & Romney need to do… not continually push “main-event-sounding policies”, i.e. a big ass defense budget when the money could be better spent (or *gasp* NOT SPENT by government at least) elsewhere.
After my interview with this veteran fan, it really got me thinking how the WWE and American politics are similar. In terms of campaigning, I think that both are pretty equal but I think I would have to give a slight edge to the WWE. Sure, both are known for their showmanship, spiffy outfits and the harsh words to an opponent. The reason the edge goes to the WWE, as my interviewee noted, Vince McMahon would NEVER spend an exorbitant amount of money on a wrestler that does not have the potential to be a main eventer. This year, one of the presidential candidates will spend several million dollars to LOSE an election. However, the one with the most winning personality who can woo the most voters will spend several million dollars to be the President of the United States. Just taking the WWE model, according to the interviewee, spending large sums of money to win an election would be okay because that one candidate was the “main eventer” but the other candidate just turns out to be an also ran, who wasted a lot of money to be a loser.
Other than campaigning, the American government is, by its nature, wasteful. We spend billions on defense and millions on salaries for politicians. I am not saying that I think we should cut out programs and cut spending everywhere but sometimes there are things out there that just do not work. Those programs either need to be cut or should be overhauled to where they provide the right service. That is called fiscal responsibility and Vince McMahon knows a thing or two about that. Maybe the next president could make Vince McMahon a Secretary. I see several options on the board that might make sense; Treasury, Interior, Commerce and Labor are cabinet level. Just don’t make him Secretary of Defense or Homeland Security.