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Sorting the Herd

April 29, 2014

If you are a cattle rancher, it is often necessary to round up your cattle in the spring and fall and sort them out according to purpose and usefulness.

You start with collecting the whole herd, then drive them to the sorting pens and separate them by sex, prospective usefulness, revenue potential, age, etc.

The old dry cows, bulls with low conception rates and market steers are designated for the feedlot and eventual slaughter, the good bulls are separated for pairing with the young heifers and producing cows, mother cows with young calves are gathered so the calves can be branded and the bull calves castrated, and so forth.

That’s exactly how present-day election strategy works. While channel-hopping today I happened to hear a Democratic strategist being asked about President Obama’s sinking poll numbers. Her reply was something along this lines of this. “It doesn’t matter what President Obama’s poll numbers are regarding the mid-term elections. What Democrats have to do is organize our base. We need to energize and organize blacks, Latinos and women”.

I might have missed a word or two but essentially, what she was describing was an old-fashioned round-up and sorting.

I’m not picking on just Democrats here. Republicans do exactly the same thing. The process even works much the same way as any roundup when viewed from the outside. There’s is a lot of organized chaos. It’s dirty, expensive in terms of manpower, and yes, ultimately productive.

The cattle roundup and sorting works because cattle are not exactly forward thinking. Get one cow headed the right way, and the whole herd follows.They don’t know that all the dirt, noise and pain will affect whether they live or die in the next few years or months. If they could think, some of them might even feel like being put in corrals where they are well-fed, their injuries tended, and there is always plenty of water to drink is a good deal.

People on the other hand, should be able to think past the next flake of hay or scoop of grain. They should be able to see that the corral means pain, aggravation, and  the end of freedom, sometimes in a very permanent way.

There’s another number that politicians like to ignore and that’s the general perception of politicians and politics in general. A recent Gallup poll shows a 13% approval rating for Congress. Strategists can usually afford to ignore it, because people who feel that way tend not to vote.

Apathy probably wins more elections than all the TV spots combined. All one party has to do is promise a bit more and defame the opposite side more effectively, i.e. energize their base, and they win. Lately, Democrats have been better at that than Republicans..

People already know that whatever is said in a campaign usually turns out to be the exact opposite of what happens when the candidate is elected, so why bother? One crook is pretty much the same as any other, so what’s different this time?

Even during a round-up there is the occasional bunch-quitter, the animal that independently breaks from the herd and takes off on its own path. Somehow, even this dumb animal just knows that the current trail is the wrong one.

This election might be different. People may not know what the future should look like, but they damn well know what it looks like now and it isn’t good from any demographic perspective.

That’s what’s different. The country is looking for someone who sees America and Americans as a thriving, vibrant, prosperous  country  and approaches the electorate that way. According to a report online 93 million eligible voters didn’t even leave the couch in the last election. The person or party that can pry those butts off the couch will be a game-changer.

If you like labels, then you will get whatever product is in the can. Most cows can’t think ahead or see the future. People can, and in this election, they might do so. There may be a whole nation of bunch quitters out there. Wouldn’t that be interesting?


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