Editor's Column: A cow stands a good chance in modern politics

For the first time in memory a cow has entered Island County politics, and truth be told we like her chances.

The silhouette of a healthy cow —- we’re guessing a Holstein — dots the Whidbey Island countryside. Written across the cow in block letters is the name of the candidate, Mary Engel, who is running against Dave Mattens for assessor. Mattens doesn’t have a cow in his advertising. He opts for looking visionary from among a field of red, white and blue. As the incumbent, he’s going to have a hard time beating the cow.

The cow tells us that Engel comes from a farm family and there’s a tiny “R” near the cow’s leg that tells us she’s a Republican. But the name and party may not even be necessary. In its present mood, the electorate may simply be happy to see a cow elected to office. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says a cow can’t run, as long as it is of a certain age, is registered to vote and pays the filing fee. Last week I saw a cow standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, making a motor voter request. Don’t be surprised in 2011 if you see cows driving their own electionmobiles.

I can’t think of an office an elected cow couldn’t supervise. The hired staff does most of the actual work, while the elected official, be it cow or human, mostly goes to training sessions and give speeches to the Rotary Club. Rotary members would appreciate a simple “moo!” in place of the long-winded pontifications to which they’ve grown accustomed. The cow would pick up considerable Rotarian support with her simple speech.

Cows could even serve in higher office, including President of the United States. A contented Holstein would bring some badly needed humility to the job and lower expectations dramatically. A cow would not have been blamed for Hurricane Katrina. What, a cow’s supposed to control the weather? Critics of the presidential cow would have been laughed off the Sunday talk shows. A presidential cow would positively improve American foreign policy, which under humans has been a disaster. Just give the President a plentiful supply of hay, all the clean water she can drink and an occasional lick of salt, and she’ll never decide to invade some hapless foreign country. Foreigners would go out of their way to keep our president contented. Terrorists would be confined to burning alfalfa fields, but FBI agents in bib overalls armed with pitchforks could take care of them.

Mary Engel’s cow just might be enough to carry her to victory in the race for Island County assessor. Voters like and trust cows and enjoy their presence in the countryside. They’re what make Island County rural. The dark secret is that at some point they’re butchered and turned into hamburger for Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. Perhaps Mr. Mattens should wear a McDonald’s uniform in his campaign pictures.

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