Low Hanging Fruit

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  10/9/2006
 

As Election Day approaches, we should be eager not only to cast our own vote, but to mobilize many others to vote. My advice: Go for the “low-hanging fruit.”

We all have friends and family members whom we really want to convert to the Church’s teachings. The task of bearing witness to them, by word and example, is carried out all-year round. And when elections draw near, we want to convert them to vote according to Christian values.

But the principle of the “low-hanging fruit” is that Election season is not the time for converting people, but rather for counting them. Here’s what I mean. If you go into an orange grove, with the goal of gathering as many oranges as you can in a limited amount of time, it doesn’t make sense to expend time and energy climbing to the top of the trees to get the oranges there when you can get many more that are within arm’s reach with much less time and energy. You’re going to reach for the low-hanging fruit!

Similarly, if you have a friend who disagrees with you politically, you may be drawn to spend hours and hours debating with him about who to vote for. In the end, you may or may not convince your friend. If you do, you have gained one vote for the candidate(s) of your choice. But there are a lot of people within your reach who are already inclined to vote for those candidates, and who may just need a reminder that it’s Election Day, or a ride to the polls, or an encouragement to vote for those particular candidates. There are many people who already trust your judgment. They may not follow the issues and candidates as closely as you do, but with a call or email from you, they will gladly follow your advice. These people are the “low-hanging fruit.”

Rather than spend hours trying to convince one person to vote the right way, spend that time and energy reminding dozens of people – who are already in agreement with you on the issues – to get out and cast their vote. Don’t go looking for the personal victory of catching the “hard to get” voter. Go catch the easier ones and bring the candidate to victory!

Elections are, in the end, numbers games. We who believe in absolute truths, values, and spiritual realities often don’t like to think in these terms. But elections are very pragmatic. On Election Day, what’s counted are not the viewpoints, beliefs, or convictions of people. What gets counted are the votes. A vote cast for a candidate because the voter liked the color of the candidate’s tie counts as much as the vote based on the candidate’s convictions.

As Election Day draws near, focus on the “low-hanging fruit.” Remember, the numbers are what counts. You have a limited amount of time to try to garner as many votes as possible. Do so with vigor, as a faithful citizen renewing the face of the earth.