I've never been to a political forum before. But I went to one tonight. I almost didn't get there because, per usual, I got turned around in the wrong direction and couldn't find the place. But I made it. I'm glad I did.
Processing the experience in the dark on the way home, I decided that attending a political forum is a little like going to the zoo. You watch the different kinds of animals doing what it is that they do. You really get a sense of the human animal, the pecking order, the squawking, the feather fluffing. I enjoyed it. Highly amusing.
So then I thought instead of just reporting the happenings at the forum, it would be even more fun to explore exactly what kind of animals were in the zoo tonight. I don't mean this in a demeaning way. I was one of them, an on-looker animal cocking my head in dumb amazement at what I suppose is a common activity that many others are accustomed to. I'm just new to this arena, and I find it curious and curiouser. So I will start by identifying myself as probably some kind of dim-witted dog not really sure of what's going on or why. See it from my objective-doggie-point of view: all these people wearing stickers with OTHER people's names on their own shirts, for instance. What is THAT all about?
I didn't have too much time to study the crowd or its other idiosyncrasies, however, before the show began. The first two candidates were a Sharpee and a Pink Flamingo. I was surprised there was another dog there. The Sharpee was different, though. The Sharpee didn't look particularly friendly. He didn't wag his tail or prance like "I want to play!" or bark out anything very interesting. Once in awhile, he would swipe at the Flamingo with his paw, and at one point, he looked like he might nip. But all in all, the Sharpee just wasn't something you would think would be in a zoo. He held the stance that he had been there before, and because of that, we ought to deem him highly. That argument didn't sit well with me. After all, he wasn't the only animal there.
His opposition, the Pink Flamingo, stood carefully balanced on one leg, looking like he might fall over at any moment but always so firmly planted that he avoided doing so. He was colorful and elegant, yet he had the right kind of beak for fighting. He could probably do some damage if he punctured skin. There was nothing pretentious in the Flamingo, he was what he was, and so next to the Sharpee, he really appeared an intriguing and different kind of creature.
Before long, however, the Bear and the Pelican took the stage. The Pelican held the right colors, the right stance, but there was something missing in his beady, black, bird-eyes that as a visitor, you might want to see. The Pelican had the pouch, but many times, it appeared to be empty, a bit disappointing because Pelicans can hold so much. The Pelican's voice couldn't seem to rise above the sound of the visitors, and maybe this was partly because of the Bear.
Now let me tell you about the Bear.
The Bear said something very important: people who work in public service learn a lot. I bet that's true.
The Bear was one of these animals who could be construed as cute and cuddly but at the same time, frightening. While the Bear possessed all those qualities we appreciate about bears--strength, sturdiness, dependability--it was easy to imagine him breaking into a picnic basket or tearing a face off with his claw. He didn't hide the fact he was a bear, was a little too boastful about it at times, but always got to the point in that grizzly-kind-of-way which is good.
Still, of all the animals at the zoo, I liked watching the Bear the most. He had character. That doesn't mean I would vote for the Bear. And I certainly wouldn't trust him in a camp ground. But he was, unapologetically, a bear. There's something to be said for that.
I figure if we are going to portray political parties as donkeys and elephants, we might as well start associating all our candidates with animals. It makes sociological sense, and it makes attending these functions even more fun. I'd hate to see what someone would make of me--probably a hippo in a tu-tu. But that doesn't stop me from picturing my zoo.
Too bad I can't draw.