11

Felines and Friends Academy Elections – Part 2

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Where we are: Bella Bear is frustrated that cats run everything at the Academy. She talks to the cats about it, and they recommend that she run for student government office. Her friend Daphne agrees, but Bella isn’t too sure.

Bella couldn’t decide what to do. She knew that the cats ad Daphne were right. Someone had to represent the other animals, but why did it have to be her? Maybe she could get someone else to run. But who?

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Bella: Ollie, don’t you think the rest of the animals deserve representation in the student government?

Ollie: That’s a great idea, Bella! We otters have almost nothing in common with the cats. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to understand what we’re saying.

Bella: Exactly. That’s why I thought you would be the perfect animal for us to get behind. The rest of us could help with signs, social media, —

Ollie: Wait a minute, Bella. I said it was a great idea. I don’t have time to do it. I’m captain of the swim team, do gymnastics, and still need to study.

Bella: I understand. Do you have any ideas?

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Ollie: I would ask one of the squirrels. They always seem to have extra time to run around.

Bella: Good idea. Thanks.

Bella finally found the squirrels racing around the courtyard. She asked them to stop so she could explain her idea.

Joe: That’s a wonderful idea. We’re all behind you. Just tell us what you need us to do.

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The other squirrels nodded.

Becky: We could make signs and hold rallies.

Bella: Actually, I was thinking that one of you could run for office.

Becky: I don’t think that’s a good idea. If we have two non-cats running, it would probably split our votes. You should definitely be our candidate.

Bella: I meant someone to run instead of me.

Joe: No, you’d stand a better chance of winning. Everyone takes bears more seriously than squirrels. They think we’re cute and brainless.

The other squirrels agreed. Bella thanked them and left. She talked to the sheep and goats. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, but no one wanted to be the first non-cat to run for office. She went through all the species in the school with no luck.

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The only one she hadn’t talked to was Greta, the red fox who was at the school as an exchange student. Bella decided to talk to her. Foxes were like dogs with fluffy tails, weren’t they? Surely a dog would want to run against a bunch of cats.

Bella: Hi, Greta. How are you?

Greta: I am well. How are you?

Bella: I’m fine. I was just wondering if you’d heard that we’re having student government elections in a few weeks?

Greta: Yes, I have. It sounds very exciting. I am looking forward to watching the whole process.

Bella: You might have noticed that all of our leaders are cats. We were thinking that it might be nice to have a non-cat run to offer a different viewpoint.

Greta: Yes. That does sound like a good idea. Other perspectives are always helpful to a group as a whole.

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Bella: I was hoping that you would be our candidate. I’m sure you have fresh ideas.

Greta: I am honored that you would think of me as a good candidate. But I really don’t understand how a student government works. Besides, I think that some students would have trouble understanding me. Not only is my native language fox, I have a rather thick accent when I speak cat.

Bella had to agree. Greta would probably need a translator at her rallies and speeches. She thanked Greta and walked away, dejected. Bella went to find Daphne.

Bella: I can’t believe it. No one wants to run for student government.

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Daphne: Why can’t you believe it? You don’t want to run. You had a great idea, and you won’t do anything to make it happen.

Bella: That’s not true. I’d do anything that was needed to get them elected.

Daphne: OK. Since no one will run, we’ll continue to do everything from the cats’ viewpoint. And you’ll keep complaining about it. But I don’t want to hear it. You had a chance to try to change it, and you walked away.

Bella: I’d never win.

 Daphne: That’s not the point. The rest of us need to stand up for ourselves. Besides, how do you know you won’t win?

Bella: I have no idea how to get animals to vote for me.

Daphne: The rest of us will work on that.

Bella went home to think about it. If anyone was going to do it, it would have to be her. Finally, she filled out the paperwork for the election. Now came the hard part.

Next week: Bella’s campaign and the election.

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15

Felines and Friends Academy Elections

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Bella Bear: I am so mad!

Daphne Bear: What’s wrong?

Bella: Those stupid cats think they run everything.

Daphne: Anything in particular? Or is this just a generalized rant?

Bella: The Student Council has decided that the end-of-the year trip should be to the State Park.

Daphne: What’s wrong with that?

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Bella: Nothing, I guess. But the games are all about running, and jumping, and catching mice.

Daphne: They won’t care if we don’t participate.

Bella: I know. But what about the rest of us? The squirrels don’t want to chase mice. They’re cousins or something. In fact, we used to have mice in school. Until the cats made too many jokes about lunchtime.

Daphne: That was in extremely poor taste.

Bella: And what about the other animals? Sheep don’t chase mice, and neither do goats. It’s ridiculous.

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Daphne: All right. What are you going to do about it?

Bella: What do you mean? They’re in charge. What they say, goes.

Daphne: Have you told them how you feel? Do you have better ideas for the games?

Bella thought for a few minutes.

Bella: I guess I don’t. It’s hard to think of things that everyone can do. But they should think of some things that don’t only appeal to cats.

Daphne: If you’re that upset, you should talk to them. They seem like nice kitties.

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Bella: I don’t know. They intimidate me.

Daphne (laughing): Seriously? You’re, like, 10 times as big as they are.

Bella: But they always hang around in a group. It’s like they’re in a gang.

Daphne: You’re being ridiculous. They won’t hurt you. They’re kitties, not ogres.

Bella (sighing): I guess you’re right.

Bella got up her nerve and went to see the cats on the Student Council. The leader was Cherie, a beautiful Maine Coon.

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Cherie: Hi Bella. What’s up?

Bella: I was wondering if we could talk about the picnic?

Cherie: Of course.

Bella: It’s just that the games all seem to be cat-centric. The rest of us won’t have anything to do. It happens a lot around here. We can study cat dialects, but there aren’t any classes to learn bear or anything else. And most of the music classes are cat music. We need more diversity.

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Cherie: I understand what you’re saying, Bella. But this school was started by cats, for cats. There are a lot more cats. We don’t intentionally leave you out. But we don’t know anything about bears, or most other animals.

Bella: Almost every animal in student government is a cat. And all of the leadership.

Cherie: That’s not our fault. The only animals that ran for offices were cats.

Bella: Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that.

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Jasmine Calico: If you’re so interested in changing things, you should run for office. The elections for next year are coming up.

Bella: Oh, no. I couldn’t do that.

Jasmine: Then you can’t complain about what we do. We work hard to do what we think is best for the students. If you don’t think we’re doing a good job, then try to change things. You won’t get anywhere just by complaining.

The other cats nodded in agreement. None of them looked angry or intimidating. In fact, they looked like they thought they were giving her good advice. Bella thanked them and left.

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Bella: I am so frustrated. Those cats are so arrogant!

Daphne: What now?

Bella: Would you believe that they said the whole thing is my fault?

Daphne: Really? Why would they say that?

Bella: They said that if I wanted to change things, I should run for office.

Daphne: So they won’t change the games?

Bella: I forgot to ask them about that.

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Daphne: What did you talk about?

Bella: I told them that the school is too cat-centric, and that some of the other animals needed to be considered when important decisions are made.

Daphne: That sounds reasonable.

Bella: I thought so. But then they told me that they’re cats, and they think like cats. If I wanted things to change, I needed to get involved.

Daphne: Were they mean about it?

Bella: No. But they’re in charge, they need to change things.

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Daphne: They told you they think like cats. If you want them to think like bears, or sheep, or whatever, you need to teach them. We don’t think like cats.

Bella: I guess. But I can’t run. No one will vote for me.

Daphne: Why not? You’re passionate about it.

Bella: I don’t know what to say.

Daphne: You’ll think of something. Do you want things to change or not?

Bella: I need to think about it.

Next week: Will Bella have enough confidence to run for office?

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

0

It’s the American Way

There’s a form of punishment called Chinese Water Torture. The basic idea was to drip water onto the person’s forehead until they were driven to confess.

For some reason, that came to mind when I was thinking about Tuesday’s election.

We don’t live in a large metropolitan area, so our candidates are not the ones taking out expensive ads on local TV stations. It’s probably just as well. After the last 2+ year Presidential election cycle, I’ve learned to tune out any ad that starts with people talking in “significant tones”.

Of course, that means that I don’t watch the gubernatorial ads either. I wonder what happened to that silly idea about people interviewing candidates and presenting their views on various issues?

A candidate came around door-to-door meeting voters a couple of weeks ago. It’s happened once or twice before. Having lived in the city for many years, it’s a little disconcerting to see a well-dressed stranger pull up. I always check for religious tracts.

It has to be a little scary for the candidate too. We live in a politically conservative area. I think that means everyone has a gun. On the other hand, most people are so impressed by the effort that they give the guy a chance. Or at least remember his name.

We’ve had a lot of candidates with fuzzy agendas and vague promises. I think this might be the first year we’ve have a proposal that’s fuzzy and vague. Not that the language is written in such a way as to get people confused. Rather, no one understands what the proposal will do. Including the candidates.

We can’t find anyone who will own up to writing the creature. All that seems to be coming out of it is that it will be good for business. Probably small business. May do something for the people too. Impacts the current tax situation somehow.

It was at this point that I intended to make a humorous comparison about how much easier it would be to live in Great Britain because I have heard that the election campaign season is limited to the two months prior to the election.

However, it seems that this is one of those cases where a little information is a dangerous thing. I had neglected to take into account how many political parties there are in Great Britain. The first clue probably should have been the number of countries in that small space.

The second clue might have been that England has been around for a very long time. Political parties seem to be like any other belonging. The longer you’re around, the more stuff you have in your attic.

Beginning with the basics. There are five major parties contesting elections. Definitions courtesy of Wikipedia. Without reference I knew about the Conservatives (center-right), Labour (center-left, and misspelled according to my computer), and the Liberal Democrats (center-left). There are also the UK Independence Party (right wing) and the British National Party (far right).

The Green Party is apparently more united and doesn’t have what we Americans would call a primary. Or they may not have more than one person interested in running. Their members are too smart.

So, right off the bat, we have the potential for multiple candidates for five parties. I have no idea how many different positions are contested in each election but for their sake, I hope it’s fewer than the federal and state Senate and Congressional districts I deal with. (Besides the President and locals).

In the last election, there were 18 other parties getting votes. They run the gamut from the National Front on the far right (think fascism) to the far left Socialist Alternative (Trotskyist) and Communist Party of Britain (Marxist). I liked the name of the Pirate Party, but was disappointed to discover that they promote reform on copyright and privacy laws (oh, that kind of pirate). But my absolute favorite/favourite is The Official Monster Raving Loony Party. It promotes parties and makes fun of the other parties. I think I could have a political future there if I ever move.

I can imagine living in London or some other major city. You would be getting the major parties everywhere, the minor parties on select stations and areas, and the fringe parties on flyers and posters where they have a following.

If you lived on the west side of England near the Irish Sea, you might be able to hear ads for the Northern Irish parties as well. In the north, you have Scottish parties and in the southwest, you have Welsh parties.

Not only would you be hearing from candidates you couldn’t vote for, you’d have trouble understanding them. (Well, that part may not be so different.) Even for two months, that would be annoying. With the general election to follow.

Maybe our system isn’t so bad. (Yeah, right.)