I've spent half a century writing for radio and print (mostly print). I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
The former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff, has described politics as a “dirty, loud-mouthed, false, lying business.” Henry Brooks Adams, journalist, academic, and descendant of two U.S. Presidents, said politics was “The systematic organization of hatreds.”
Political Sleaze, Slime, and Skulduggery
- In 2015, Baron Sewel, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, and chair of the committee overseeing ethics, was caught snorting cocaine off the breasts of a prostitute.
- Since 2009, 14 members of the U.S. Congress have been convicted of crimes.
- In November 2015, the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec reported on the widespread use of bribes and kickbacks involving mayors, councillors, construction companies, and Mafia bosses.
- Then there’s the less than edifying spectacle of a U.S. President making false or misleading statements more than 30,000 times during four years in office.
These are three of the least corrupt countries in the world. Transparency International says for really major league bad behaviour in the public sector you need to go to countries such as Venezuela, Sudan, Afghanistan, or Iraq. The organization adds that “The scale of the issue is huge. Sixty-eight percent of countries worldwide have a serious corruption problem. Half of the G20 are among them.”
Little wonder then that politicians are held in such low regard. Gallup tells us that Members of Congress score eight out of a hundred on honesty and ethics. That’s the same value given to car salespeople and telemarketers.
So, herewith, a compendium of alternatives to human legislators.
Cats Rule …
Barsik the Cat ran for mayor of the Siberian city of Barnaul. His campaign slogan was “Only mice don’t vote for Barsik.” The feline won with 90 percent of the 5,400 votes cast. But Barsik did not become mayor because his victory was only in an unofficial online poll.
Agence France-Presse said Barsik’s hollow victory was the result of “Political apathy and resentment over corruption scandals at city hall . . . ” Somehow, that has a familiar ring to it.
Stubbs did achieve high office in Talkeetna, Alaska. Here’s The New York Daily News (July 2012): “The part-manx is popular among residents, who voted him into office in a write-in election a decade and a half ago when he was a kitten, after rejecting the human candidates on the ballot.” However, despite the wishes of voters, Stubbs’s status was downgraded to “Honourary.”
Although he doesn't seem too concerned by his demotion (below).
(What is it with Alaska and its election of mayors? One claimed an expert knowledge of foreign relations on the grounds she could see Russia from her kitchen window.)
The people of Xalapa, Mexico became fed up with corrupt humans running the place, so they called in Morris, a black and white kitty.
In 2013, two students put him up for mayor on a lark and Morris attracted 150,000 likes on Facebook. His slogan was “Tired of Voting for Rats? Vote for a Cat.”
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He got 7,500 votes on election day, sadly not enough to unseat the incumbent. His owner, Sergio Chamorro, told The Associated Press that Morris, “ . . . sleeps almost all day and does nothing . . . ” So his political profile could be said to be purrfect, although no competent writer would stoop so low as to use such a dreadful pun.
Lucy Lou faced stiff competition in fellow Kentuckian Limberbutt McCubbins, a tabby cat. He was running for occupancy of the White House on a progressive platform of fair wages, affordable health care for animals as well as people, legalizing gay cat marriage and catnip, and a just tax code.
Unlike Lucy Lou’s indepawdent stance, Limberbutt was hoping to secure the nomination of the Democratic Party, or, as he preferred to call it, the Democat Party. As Limberbutt might have put it “Meow is the Time,” but no self-respecting scribbler would have the gall to repeat that.
Dogs as Mayors
Rabbit Hash is an unincorporated community of 315 people in Kentucky. It has never had a human mayor.
In 1998, the local folk began the tradition of electing a dog as mayor. The voting is held on the same day as presidential elections.
Each voter pays one dollar before casting a ballot, with the proceeds go to support the Rabbit Hash Historical Society. Anyone in the world is eligible to vote. The consumption of alcohol on election day is permitted, perhaps, dare we say, even encouraged.
Goofy Borneman was the first to hold the exalted title. His genealogy cannot be found in the American Kennel Club pedigree list, having been born of unknown parentage.
He called the community his home and picked up whatever scraps of food citizens left for him. It was unkindly said of him that Goofy stank and he had a criminal record, having been caught poaching chickens. Nonetheless, he was a lovable old rogue and handily carried the ballots election.
As mayor, he did what he had always done—very little other than lying in a sunny spot outside the Rabbit Hash general store. Sadly, Goofy died in office and the leash of officialdom was passed on to a black Labrador named Junior.
Lucy Lou finally broke through the glass ceiling and assumed the burden of office in 2008. However, she was an ambitious pooch and she ran for the presidency of the United States in the 2016 battle.
Her campaign staff was refreshingly candid about Lucy Lou's chances: “As with politics in every corner of the earth, the candidate with the most money wins. In Rabbit Hash, we’re just honest about it. Anyone of any age can vote, you can vote as many times as you like, and we encourage drinking at the polls.”
History shows that had Lucy Lou won, America and the world would have been spared a whole lot of hurt.
On November 5, 2020, French bulldog Wilbur Beast was the victorious candidate, garnering more than 13,000 of the nearly 23,000 votes cast. Jack Rabbit, a Beagle and golden Retriever Poppy, the second and third place finishers, have been very gracious; neither of them has uttered the slightest whimper about the election being rigged.
The Best Four-Legged Candidate
The rhinoceros has a thick skin and is short-sighted. It is ponderous, but can put on a surprising turn of speed when it senses danger. And it’s not very smart. To many this is also an accurate description of politicians. That’s what the people of São Paulo, Brazil thought in 1959.
It’s the now-familiar scenario of people getting tired of venal politicians misusing public funds and looking for an alternative candidate. A group of students found their standard-bearer in the form of a five-year-old female rhinoceros at the local zoo. Her name was Cacareco (meaning rubbish), and she became the most popular candidate, with 100,000 votes among the 540 people vying for the 45-seat council.
The chattering classes huffed and puffed in indignation going as far as to suggest this outpouring of civil disobedience marked the start of a societal collapse. Election officials were not amused, nullified all of Cacareco’s ballots, and held another vote a week later.
- Cacareco became the inspiration for the satirical Rhinoceros Party in Canada. Among the planks in its platform have been: building tall schools to promote higher education; repealing the law of gravity; and genetically engineering mosquitoes so they hatch in January and freeze to death.
- The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that the Emperor Caligula made his horse Incitatus a member of the Consul. Suetonius had a bit of hate on for Caligula (he was not alone in this regard) and may have exaggerated the story a bit. However, it’s still nice to think of Incitatus registering a negative vote by saying “Neigh.” (Profound apologies).
- “Corruption Perceptions Index 2015.” Transparency International.
- “Honesty/Ethics in Professions.” Gallup, December 2015.
- “Disgruntled Siberian City Wants Cat for Mayor.” Agence France-Presse, December 16, 2015.
- “Cat Has Been Mayor of Alaska Town for 15 Years.” Meena Hart Duerson, The New York Daily News (July 2012):
- “Morris the Cat Running for Mayor of Mexican City.” Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo News, June 17, 2013.
- “First Mayor – Goofy.” Rabbit Hash Historical Society, undated.
- “This Dog Is an Elected Mayor, and now She’s Running for President.” Arin Greenwood, Huffington Post, November 2, 2015.
- “About Limberbutt McCubbins.” Limberbutt 2016, undated.
- “Cacareco the Rhinoceros.” Museum of Hoaxes, undated.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2016 Rupert Taylor