(Editor’s Note: This piece by Allia Zobel Nolan originally ran in The News-Times on Nov. 4, 2019).
Politics. We can’t live with it. We can’t live without it. It’s in the pawfront of our daily lives. And now more so than ever. Small wonder, when the time comes, we the people are panicking about choosing the right leaders — whether it’s a government official, the head of the PTA, or even our book club president.
When it comes to legislators, TV and social media try to influence us. And of course, there’s fake news. Still, if we are dead serious about making an informed decision, there is really only one reliable source, an authority who has been around since before there was dirt — that four-legged know-it-all: the cat.
From esteemed seneschal and chief vermin chaser in pharaoh’s palace to playing cat and mouse with White House presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, felines have observed the rise and fall of many regimes. So as the insurance company adage goes, they know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two.
What’s more, though not normally political animals, because of their lengthy nine lives’ experience, level-headedness, superior intellect, and haw-eyed powers of attention, cats have, down through the ages, internalized winning strategies that work in politics as well as in life. Ipso facto, cats are the perfect candidate.
Problem is, as knowledgeable and competent as they are, a recent Quinipi-cat survey revealed that cats would rather sleep in — than run for — any type of local or national office.
So what’s a constituent to do?
Well, I suggest those who are privileged enough to share their lives with a kitty join with me in trying to introduce them to — and educate them in — the joys and perks of becoming a public servant. In this way, someday in the not-too-distant future, we may have more cats willing to stop chasing spiders and become more involved in the political rat race.
In the meantime, while we cultivate more civic-minded kitties, it’s my humble opinion that the next best thing to do is to vote in candidates who possess the wholesome characteristics and the democratic attitudes that have made the feline top cat, social media star and trusted stalwart of the masses.
With that in mind, I’ve made a list of attributes I feel voters should keep in mind when choosing any candidate, to wit:
Choose a peace-loving candidate. Forget those who engage in macho shows of aggression or bravado. Hissing, spitting and baring fangs are an indication this office seeker needs to mature.
Look for someone who appreciates voters. Rubbing against constituents’ legs or proffering the occasional head butt indicates this person will have your back.
Embrace candidates who exude feline civility. Don’t get sucked in to those involved in dog-eat-dog campaigns. Though it may be de rigueur these days, avoid contenders who go for their opponent’s jugular.
Vote for the candidate who will work for the entire clowder — not just his/her own self-interests.
Favor those front-runners who don’t try to curry favor by jumping in voters’ laps.
Avoid politicians known for “catting around.”
Seek out would-be leaders who can handle themselves when dining with important VIPs. Those who’re known to groom themselves at state diners, walk around with salmon canapes in their whiskers or beg for second helpings of ice cream should not be considered at all cost.
Candidates who are quoted as saying women constituents look better in high heels don’t deserve your support.
Pick a person whose loyalty and allegiance is not up for grabs by any lobbyist who pets them, gives them treats or offers to pass on information about a rival Alpha Cat.
Search for a politician who reveres our natural resources and is a savvy conservationist, a leader who’d never hang a mouse head in his conference room.
Consider a prospective leader who, a la Churchill, knows the importance of naps.
Concentrate on candidates who are true to themselves and proud of their ancestry, whether white, black, striped, odd-eyed or blended.
Look for leaders who know they are superior, yet don’t flaunt it.
Look for men/women who’re independent thinkers, don’t revel in approval ratings or base important decisions on the approbation of anyone else.
Consider candidates who’d rather lie around than lie.
Pick a leader who is expert at routing out rats and other vermin.
And finally, never support politicians who think nothing of shedding on their opponents.
— Allia Zobel Nolan
Allia Zobel Nolan is the author of many books, including nine about cats. Among her more than 150 adult and children’s books is Laugh Out Loud: 40 Women Humorists Celebrate Then and Now…Before We Forget, a collaboration with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.