First off, the barbecue profession is just that “professional”. Barbecue competition cooks take their craft seriously and want to produce the best product possible every time they cook at a contest. Backyard cooks want to impress everyone with their skills. Barbecue Judges always want their scores to be accurate and in-line with the other judges evaluating the same entries. And barbecue organizations care about their reputations and their membership and work hard to ensure contests are running consistently and fairly to all contestants.
Unfortunately, Congress isn’t as“professional”. They don’t appear to take their jobs as seriously by representing the needs and best interests of their constituency and the nation as a whole, but the best interests of themselves.
They “say” they care about their reputations and reprenting their electorate, but their actions speak louder than words. By this I’m referring to all the scandals, the inability to compromise on legislation to get at least something passed for the benefit of “We the people” – thus the constant deadlock, the individual grandstanding, and the constant political party bickering that always “somehow” makes its way to the overzealous, sensationalizing media.
Competition barbecue has rules in place that are enforced to ensure all contests are judged fairly and have an equal chance of winning. The total focus being on awarding best barbecue. On any given day, a new
barbecue cook using weber grills has an equal opportunity to be the grand champion based on their cooking skills,
as a more experienced cook with large, expensive equipment.
Unlike in America, where overall legislation or a particular legislation always seems to favor either small business or big business. It shouldn’t be at the expense of one or the other. Lawmakers should work harder to draft laws that benefit all businesses in the spirit of promoting fair competition and American entrepenualism at all levels.
Barbecue organizations are financially sound and responsible entities. As barbecue continues to be the fastest growing culinary art in America, barbecue organizations continue to grow and remain solvent. I don’t know of any of these organizations that have been on the brink of going out of business.
On the other hand, the fact that our Congress has brought America to the “Financial Cliff” crisis numerous times over the past three years and has the nation trillions of dollars in debt, and in debt to other nations, says it all. By “nation” I’m referring to us, the average taxpayer, who is mainly picking up the majority of the check for that outrageous debt.
While every barbecue competitor wants to win every contest they enter, every backyard cook wants their barbecue to be considered the best in the neighborhood, and every restaurant chef wants his barbecue to be considered the
best in town. However, there is a sense of teamwork and unity in barbecue for the glory of the sport. All barbecue cooks brag a little (or a lot) and share techniques and recipes with each. Even though they don’t give away all their secrets. This forms a sense of community that everyone is invited to join.
Congress has become more of a select“club” that is always looking to one up each other for appointments, committees, and prestige, has cliques, and forms alliances only for short periods of time. It seems to me the main focus is to stay in office, not the quality quantity of the work. More effort and money seems to more often be put into re-election than accomplishing for the good of their constituency and the nation as a whole. A reoccurring theme here, huh?
The barbecue community is about the preservation of the American barbecue heritage, which translates to the protection of the traditional cooking techniques and quality smoked meat. Barbecue judges take an oath before judging a contest to evaluate each barbecue entry in accordance with the established criteria of the organization
and to the best of their ability. A judge’s scoring is also addressed if their scores are too far out of alignment with the other judges at the table. In essence, an individual “checks and balances” system is employed, and performance is consistently monitored.
America is in such a tough situation today that all members of Congress should be re-elected by performance, not power or longevity. Remember Machiavelli, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. And today Congress is as close to having absolute power and being wholly unaccountable as any time in American history. I guess the American people have seen so much negativity and corruption in politics over the past 50 years that we feel powerless to change the climate no matter who we vote for.
Barbecue people are a very genuine and down to earth group of people. While we are intense and passionate about our craft, we truly enjoy the company and the conversation of fellow barbecue enthusiasts. I’ve never seen a fight or verbally abusive exchange amongst by barbecue brethren. Although I’m sure it happens from time to time, it’s not a daily event.
Congress has come to have an elitist and entitled mentality today. They are there to serve the people, not themselves. If we did some of the things they do, like if we didn’t show up for a vote or important meeting, be ineffective, be disagreeable or hard tom work with, we’d be reprimanded. Or if a pattern existed, be fired from the job. The art and decorum of politicking, as seen by our forefathers Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Alexander Hamilton, has become a lost art. It has been replaced by an atmosphere of hate and discord.
Barbecue is universal. The basic principles are hard and steadfast; low& slow with smoke. This makes barbecue potentially great wherever you go in America; Tennessee or New York, North Carolina or California. This leads to
consistency, with specific regional flavor profiles and individual creativity the point of differentiation between barbecue products. Regional preferences are strong, with each thinking their style is the best, but respecting other regional styles and the barbecue culture as a whole.
America conversely, seems to have few common threads today with state and regional pride often overriding national patriotism. While diversity is a desirable thing, America is too polarized on too many big political issues and social ideology. This is a divisive state of affairs. As a nation we’ve come to focus more on our differences, rather than celebrating our similarities and insincerely working to resolve our differences. And most appalling, we’ve empowering the media to form our opinions, rather than research, intelligence, and logic, like an educated, first world country should.
The signature aspect of barbecue (vs. grilling) is it’s low and slow cooking method. Part of the process is spending a great deal of time and attention monitoring the grill’s temperature, establishing timing, mopping and basting, and testing the internal temperature of the meat to determine doneness. If you don’t constantly focus on preparing your barbecue, the meat will most likely turn out poorly.
Drivers in America need to follow barbecue’s slow and attentive methodology. Instead of talking on their cell phones without ear buds or blue tooth (or at all), texting, sending e-mails, eating, putting on make-up, and a shocking array of other in-car activities, drivers need to obey the posted speed limit and pay attention to the road. This would reduce accidents and make American highways and back roads a lot safer for everyone.
And finally, barbecue doesn’t see color or race, religion or political affiliation, or male or female. It’s simply about one thing….producing and eating great barbecue!
America has become so segregated today, with everything being scrutinized and categorized, that there exists a perpetual attitude of us vs. them. This has resulted in a never-ending competition among different groups and organizations. We should all work for what is morally right and fair without prejudice. We should all strive to
be one thing for the common good and advancement of all of us in the United States…Americans!
I have a basic, rudimentary plan to help fix Congress, but that’s for another column and in another forum.
While barbecue isn’t perfect, at least it’s theoretically better than America today. Hence my belief, America should be more like barbecue!
Where there's smoke,
there's probably barbecue!