Niagara Gazette

October 4, 2012

HAMILTON: Politics, Cheshire cats and cockapoos

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — We have a tendency to categorize people in non-human terms. There are very few professional sports teams that are named after humans. Despite the greatness and the many contributions of Benjamin Franklin to southeast Pennsylvania, none of their sports teams are called the Philadelphia Franklins.

We humans seemingly prefer to represent our triumphs in terms of our animal nature. Our national symbol is an eagle; this, despite Franklin’s suggestion that the turkey should become our national bird. Perhaps there was good reason for it — after all, wasn’t he forced into conversations with the other politicians at Carpenter Hall during the forming of this nation?

Even our major political parties thereafter adopted animals for party symbols; the Republican Party uses an elephant and the Democratic Party uses a donkey. I’m not sure why those animals were selected back then; but as the parties have changed, I think that their symbols should change, too.

There are better suited animals to reflect their present nature and demeanor: the Cheshire cat and the Cockapoo, for instance.

One comedian said that major difference between cats and dogs is in how each one perceives its human. He said that pet dogs see their humans as management, while pet cats see theirs humans as staff!

I think that Republicans are more like Cheshire cats, like the one in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”; whereas, they mostly like to be left alone; but they can engage you in dialogue that both helps and confuses some people. Their party’s platform is geared more towards the service to an individual’s independence – even if that independence is from both Democrats and from each other; after all, where have you seen more than one Cheshire cat at a time?

The individual Republican feels that their government is there to provide for their general needs; but, at the same time, not to be too intrusive in anything. And like most cats, they won’t likely respond to a whistle; but cats will respond to the buzz of a can opener or the sound of the refrigerator door opening.

And many Democrats seemingly claim to want government to take care of everyone, especially themselves; but not necessarily the Republicans.

Democrats want to come off as soft, sharing and caring, much as the relationship between the human and its cute and cuddly Cockapoo; and the Cockapoo, a hybrid (Big Tent) animal, wants to come off as tough and protective of its human, each other and against other breeds — and have even been known to chase cats. But they are happiest when they feel loved; especially after a good feeding and watering, even if the water is blue. They actually love their party, er, human.

Not so with the Cheshire cat Republicans. They will let their party know when they want to be petted, and in no uncertain terms will let them know when they have had enough of their pawing.

Most people are Democrats, and it is easier being one than it is to be a lone Cheshire cat. Almost anything that its human gives to a Cockapoo, it’ll gratefully eat. But Republicans, er, I mean, cats are somewhat finicky.

If you don’t get their food right, then they will go out, catch a mouse, drag it back into the house and then totally disgust you by eating it in front of you until you can finally get your human job of feeding them right.

But, as humans, the imperfect parties should be our pets, and not we theirs. And if we had to compare those parties to anything, except elephants and donkeys, then it is clear to me that the symbol of the Democratic Party should be a Cockapoo or something, and that the Republicans should lose the elephant and adopt the quixotic Cheshire cat.

Perhaps then the parties can quit fighting each other like dogs and cats, and finally realize that their main differences are in their personalities and how they see their human, er, I mean, their party, er, I ,mean, well, all of us.

After all, our triumphs will be in our proper demonstration of our humanity to each other, and not in our animal nature of self-preservation.

Note: Not to give Obama and the government credit for this column, but I must thank my diverse focus group who gave it a first read and made some excellent suggestions to improve it.

Thank you.

Anecdote of the week: A young associate at a local cellphone store recently helped me to ‘right-size’ my telephone service and bill by encouraging me to use a low-tech flip phone with my tablet, rather than having two, expensive “smart devices.”

When I questioned her about the loss of flexibility in so doing, she said, “We can save you money; but it is going to cost you.”

As funny as it sounds, she is one of the few people with whom I have ever spoken that seemed to understand the proper relationship between “price” and “cost.”

Now if only our governments would either be as honest as a cellphone associate or if they can learn the lessons that she teaches!

Contact Ken Hamilton at