Animals in Charge

Gay Lynn HillStudy Break

Congress is circling the drain when it comes to their popularity – perhaps we need to look to others for leadership.  Perhaps….other species.

Putting forward four-legged candidates can be a way to protest the political system or to entertain the electorate. Most constituencies require candidates to be of legal age, which eliminates many animals whose life expectancy is too short to qualify.  Even with the U.S. not recognizing animal citizenship, on some occasions, animals have been accepted as candidates and have even won office. Let’s look at some of these winners (and one infamous presidential pig candidate):

On Sept. 13, 1938 Boston Curtis won the post of Republican precinct committeeman for Milton, Washington by virtue of fifty-one votes cast for him in the state primary election. Curtis ran uncontested but the residents were very surprised to find out that they had just elected a docile brown mule.  Milton’s Democratic mayor, Kenneth Simmons, put the donkey on the ballot to show that voters often “know not whom they support.”

Mayor Clay Henry’s affinity for beer greatly worried the people of Lajitas, Texas–mainly because Henry was a goat. From 1986 until his death in 1992, Clay Henry served his constituents well. Lajitas is an unincorporated community where the position of mayor is merely symbolic. All these symbolic mayors had to worry about while in “office” was to attract tourists who would come and offer them beers. In his prime, Mayor Clay Henry Sr. was known to chug over 35 beers a day.

At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, the Yippies (Youth International Party) nominated a pig for president, with the campaign pledge: “They nominate a president and he eats the people. We nominate a president and the people eat him.” The brainchild of activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the candidacy of Pigasus the Immortal was short-lived. Barely had Jerry Rubin begun the official introductions at Pigasus’ first press conference, he and several others were arrested on the morning of Aug. 23rd, at the Chicago Civic Center. The humans were bailed out later in the day, but Pigasus’ ultimate end remains unknown.

Lastly, Duke may be the most popular politician in America, winning his third consecutive term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota for a landmark third time in a landslide. What’s his secret? Probably the fact that he’s a 9-year-old Great Pyrenees dog, and everyone loves dogs.

Have you ever written in a candidate on a ballot?  Would you consider nominating an animal for office?  Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.