Have you ever looked into a the soulful eyes of a dog or the steely, merciless peepers of a shark and thought, "I would follow you anywhere, if only you would lead." Sometimes, they've done just that. We're going to take a look at the best animals ever to hold, or run for, public office. Get ready to lay some newspaper down on the seat of power, because not all candidates are housebroken.
1. Incitatus Did It First
Man, the Romans get to everything first. Or do they? There are all kinds of rumors about Incitatus, the infamous Caligula's favorite horse. We're not sure whether Incitatus was made a Senator, was soon to become a consul when Caligula was killed, or was only a rumor created by Caligula's enemies. Whatever his status, he unquestionably ran on the popular, "Support me and you won't be killed," ticket - which had worked so well for humans both before and after. What isn't in question is the horse lived the life of the kind of Roman who wouldn't have a problem running for office. He was said to have a marble stable, a full complement of servants, and eat oats mixed with gold flakes. People would be invited to dine at the horse's house. Some people see the elevation of Incitatus (historians first thought it was an a historical truth rather than rumor because the horse wore dress patterned on that of a consul), as a mark of madness in Caligula. Others say that he was only making a satirical point as to how useless and demoralized the actual assembly was. Either way, Incitatus is perhaps the most famous non-human government official.
2. Pigasus the Immortal Will Let You Eat Him
The most famous American animal politician has to be Pigasus the Immortal, who was brought to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The Yippies, Youth International Party, endorsed Pigasus as their candidate, one the grounds that usually candidates were elected and ate the people, but this candidate would be elected and then eaten by the people. That, they maintained, was the only difference between their candidate and any other in the United States. Pigasus might have been able to run for office (both dogs and cats have run since then) but he was not allowed to be walked around the streets of Chicago, because he was technically livestock. Pigasus was taken to an Anti-Cruelty Society pen. His handlers were taken to jail. The entire brouhaha surrounding the 1968 convention ended up with the infamous Chicago Eight (and then Chicago Seven) being tried.
3. Not that Lucy Lou
Not all animals have as hard a political row to hoe as Pigasus. Lucy Lou (note the different spelling) ran for the position of mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. This might have been novel in some other town, but in Rabbit Hash, an animal had a better chance than a human. The precious mayor was a black lab, and Lucy was running against dogs, cats, a mule, and an opossum. Lucy became Mayor Lou when she got 8,000 votes. The single human running for mayor dropped out of the race on Election Day with what had to be a bit of a sour concession speech. The other animals dealt with the blow as best they could.
4. Tuxedo Stan is Noble in Defeat
The trick to a successful animal campaign is to keep it free of "issues." Tuxedo Stan, a medium-haired tuxedo cat, very recently made a brave run for mayor of Halifax by trying to keep the focus on Halifax's problem with feral cats. Spay and neuter services are few, and not many residents have taken advantage of them, leading to a huge explosion of homeless cats. A noble cause, but a bummer. Tuxedo Stan got a further setback when Anderson Cooper endorsed his candidacy on Anderson Cooper 360 on September 24th of this year, making Tuxedo Stan only the second cutest thing associated with his own campaign. Although he and his campaign managers, Hugh and Kathy Chisholm, ran a dedicated campaign, Mike Savage swept the mayoral election as of October 20th.
5. Cacareco Starts a Social Movement in Two Continents
It all started in Brazil in 1958, where a rhinoceros named Cacareco was put up for election for city council in São Paulo. People were so sick of the corruption that a huge majority didn't even bother voting. The ones that did liked a rhino far more than any of the available candidates. Cacareco got 100,000 votes, more than any other party. Since then, votes in Brazil that were made specifically to piss off a person or political party are referred to as Cacareco votes. Meanwhile, in North America, the Canadian Rhinoceros Party sprang up and pledged to advance ridiculous platforms in honor of the brave rhino of São Paulo.
6. Tião Was As Dishonest as the Rest of Them
Not all Brazilian politicians can be as inspirational as Cacareco. Tião had neither the rhino's disposition, nor his honor. A candidate endorsed by the Brazilian Banana Party in the 1980s, he ran on the slogan, "Vote Monkey, Get Monkey." This was meant as a slap to dirty politicians everywhere, and it was pretty successful. The Brazil Banana Party's candidate came in third. There was one problem. Tião was a chimpanzee, which is an ape, and not a monkey. Dirty politics. Sometimes animals are just as bad as the rest of them.
7. Billy and Tai Couldn't Take the Heat
It's been shown by the Lucy Lou debacle that once people go animal they rarely go back. But then, the citizens of Whangamomona, New Zealand tend to go their own way all the time. When politicians re-drew border lines so that the citizens of Whangamomona were grouped in with another region they didn't like, they declared themselves an independent region, and elected a president. Among these presidents was Billy the Goat. He served for four years. Tai the Poodle, who was the dog of a local bar owner, was elected shortly after Billy. Tai, unfortunately, was frightened away from the presidency following an assassination attempt. Today, the president is Murtle "The Turtle" Kennard, a human man whose middle name may have helped him win election.
8. Boston Curtis Was Early Proof of the Problems of a Two-Party System
In 1938, Republicans were pleased to see that Boston Curtis had won in the primary election for committeeman for Milton, Washington. They were less than pleased when they noticed that his signature on official documents required for his candidacy was a smear and not a scrawl. They were downright angry when they found out he was a mule. He had been entered in the election by Kenneth Simmons, the mayor of Milton, and a Democrat. (Don't you wish that mayors would get up to this kind of stuff nowadays?) He wanted to expose the problem of the election system by showing that a mule could win an early election as long as people weren't informed and felt they had no one else to represent them. Boston did not advance to further elections, sadly. There was a signature dispute.
9. The Clay Henry Dynasty Ends Bloodily
They say that America is the new Roman empire. Looking at the Clay Henry saga, I'd say we outdo the Romans in some respects. The familial soap opera that played out in Lajitas, Texas rivals the best of the Roman imperial dynasties, and leaves Incitatus well behind. Clay Henry had an alcohol problem. He would drink about thirty-five beers a day, and pass out by early afternoon. He got all that beer, despite being unemployed, because people gave it to him. People gave it to him because he was a goat who could chug a beer. They were so eager, in fact, that Clay Henry resulted in a bit of tourist revenue coming in through Lajitas. Eventually, he was elected mayor, as a payback for his great service to the town.
Sadly, his reign was short and violent. He had a son who he also taught to drink. One night they saw a she-goat that they both loved. The father and son clashed, and the Clay Henry II violently butted his father to death. From then on, the killer took his father's place on the throne. No one in Lajitas had the power to question him. In time, he had his own son, who inherited his title after he died. Resentment at the powerful goat dynasty was building, though, particularly in one man who disliked that it was illegal for humans to drink beer on a Sunday, but perfectly legal for goats to do it. He sneaked into the pen one night and castrated Clay Henry III. The man was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. After some surgery, Clay Henry III survived. His reign continues.
Top Image: Zoned DK
Pig Image: Petr Kratochvil
Chimp Image: Frans de Waal, Emory University/PLOS
Goat Image: USDA