Carter swallowed a mouthful of his mom’s tuna casserole, set his fork down beside his plate and declared, “Mom, dad. I’ve decided to become a politician.”
Carter’s mom burst into tears. “I raised you better than that.”
His dad remained stoic. “Have you settled on a political persuasion?”
“Not yet. I haven’t decided,” said Carter.
“That’s good. You don’t want to rush into anything. You’ll know what to choose when you see where the money comes from,” said Carter’s dad.
His mom continued to sob into her casserole.
“I figured I should assess the lay of the land,” said Carter.
Carter’s dad nodded in agreement. “There are three keys to political success: networking, money and branding. I call them the Big Three.”
“What about principle, huh? Remember when politics was about principle?” shrieked Carter’s mom.
“Mom, I know. Principle is important for people at the lower levels, like for volunteers and interns. But if you want to make a career of it, you’ve got to go bigger than that,” said Carter. “It takes more investment.”
“What do you mean by that?” demanded his mom.
“Dear, everyone’s got principles. They’re a dime a dozen,” explained Carter’s dad. “Not everyone has the Big Three.”
“I swear, the level of cynicism in this house is shocking,” said Carter’s mom.
“What do you think politics is? asked Carter.
“It used to be about building society, helping humanity,” said Carter’s mom.
Carter’s dad laughed. “It’s about the other Big Three: power, wealth and fame.”
“If you want to help society, join a charity,” said Carter.
Carter’s mom smacked Carter on the arm. “Don’t use that tone with me, young man.”
“Your mom’s right. You’ll never build a positive brand by being disrespectful to your mother,” said Carter’s dad.
Carter forced a tear to fall. “Sorry, mom.”
“It’s okay, son,” said his mom.
Carter’s dad slapped him on the back. “You’re a natural, son. Once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.”
Carter smiled, then shoveled another spoonful of tuna casserole in his mouth.