Can you believe it is that time again when we have the opportunity to be involved in elections for those who want to go to Washington to represent us in Congress and others who want to go to Nashville to solve our budget problems? Even county elections are up for grabs. And to tell you the truth, I have enjoyed the absence of those times when grown men call each other names and their TV commercials are as wacky as some of the candidates. But, here we go again and I suggest you fasten your seatbelts, because it looks like a real bumpy ride this time around. I suggest you don’t make up your mind until you actually see the whites of their eyes, which was a good suggestion by General Jackson back during the battle of New Orleans when it came to fighting the British. This year’s elections sound a lot like that scrap in the Bayou with all the talk about taxes and tea parties.
Now we have to decide if we are going to be donkeys or elephants. In fact, there even may be a few of us who are going to vote as a “donkeyphant” when we go to the polls. I coined that term several years ago and this just may be the year to use it. If you don’t remember, I said a donkeyphant is a cross between a donkey and an elephant. It’s not very pretty, but it has a real mean kick and never forgets a candidate’s promise. Parties don’t mean that much to them either when it comes down to the betterment of all the people and not just to the elephants and donkeys.
Being from the farm, I have noticed once again as the politicking has already begun, that some of the candidates claim to be farm raised. Not as many seem to be coming into major offices with farming in their backgrounds, but many claim to have spent many hours on their granddaddy’s place in the summer. You have heard them. They begin their speeches, when in farm country, telling about hard times as a youngster back on the farm.
To them, it was always winter, three o’clock in the morning, the depression, and they had to harvest every crop known to man. They all also had to walk hundreds of miles to school in blinding snow storms uphill both ways. I heard one the other day say he would walk four miles to school each day, except days when he was lucky enough to ride a stick horse.
It does help candidates to understand agriculture, but farmers do know when the candidate is getting beyond their field of real understanding.
One hot August day several years ago, one such candidate did that in my hometown. The country store located in the crossroads at Versailles in Rutherford County was a favorite gathering place for candidates to meet the farmers in the area on Saturday afternoons. They would shake hands, pass out cards, and visit with the folks shopping at the store. If a crowd gathered, they would even give a speech on the store porch.
On this particular August Saturday afternoon, a crowd did gather to hear a candidate speak on why he should be elected their state senator. As he spoke in a loud and thunderous voice, a little boy moved to the front of the crowd to get a better look.
The congressional candidate had spoken for several minutes giving his qualifications and continued to expound on his important ties to farming. Speaking to a group of people who made their living from plowing the soil, this candidate knew he had to prove he was one of them. As the crowd grew strangely silent the congressman-wanna-be said, “I am so rooted in the agriculture community, that I even grew up between two rows of corn.”
When the little boy, who had moved down front, heard his statement he immediately tugged at his mother’s dress and said loud enough so everyone in the crowd could hear, “Mama, he must be a punkin!”
Just like the little boy, this year we need to keep our ears and eyes open for a few “punkins” out there. And remember, you can vote donkeyphant this year if you want to.