On a Game Show Analogy for the Times

The other day I was thinking about the beginning of a television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The initial once-a-week phenomenon hosted by Regis Philbin was a prime-time success. As ratings soared, the network expanded to two then three, and possibly more evenings. The show eventually peaked, got scaled back, and is now a regular component for daytime viewing; but no longer a craze.

The network’s rationale is obvious – cash in on those advertising revenues when you can – a get the money when you can approach. The eventually losers in the methodology are the viewers whose interest fades due to overexposure, thus ratings and revenue subsequently fall; but the networks had a successful cash cow.

Through the years I’ve seen this happen with other shows; in the same way I’ve watched political parties whose prominence ebbs and flows. Currently, the Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Capitol Hill and occupy the White House. The same was true for Republicans not all that long ago. And of course transition periods of divided power also occur.

In any time on single party dominance, their behavior is similar to the networks – you know, get it while you can. The Democrats know they must maximize their use of the time because it won’t last – and just like the last time the Republicans dominated the power – and the time before that with the Democrats.

So during our country’s time of need, a time when we could use a patriotic grace to do what is needed – what is right – let us remember that the party in power seeks to get it while it can – but, in this case, at the citizen’s expense – and the same would be true if the other party was in power because political parties practice their mantra – party first.