Farm Progress

Back 40: One common misconception about both pigs and politicians is that they enjoy wallowing in the mud.

Gail C. Keck, freelance writer

July 2, 2018

3 Min Read
COMMON GROUND: Both pigs and politicians have more in common than you would think.SvetaZi/Getty Images

People generally consider calling someone a pig to be an insult, but I want to be clear that I have a high opinion of pigs. So, when I compare pigs and politicians, I don't mean it as an insult. It's just that pig behavior seems to offer a bit of insight into some of the political shenanigans we keep seeing.

Most pigs are smart and resourceful, as are most effective political leaders. And pigs have a clear, useful purpose, which is more than you can say for some people. Politicians have a clear, useful purpose as well, although it's not as savory as bacon. Our country's ongoing efforts to form a more perfect union rely on people willing to take on the hard task of making and carrying out laws.

One common misconception about both pigs and politicians is that they enjoy wallowing in the mud. I'm convinced that both are fastidious by nature and only resort to wallowing when things heat up. Pigs, unlike cattle, will not deposit manure in areas where they eat or sleep unless they have no alternative. They don't have sweat glands, so they will seek out the moisture in mud to find relief from the heat, but if they're kept somewhere comfortable they'll keep themselves clean. I can't imagine that our politicians enjoy all the political mudslinging either. But when temperatures rise in Washington, it's hard to avoid. We've created that environment for them, so we can't be surprised at the filth.

Another characteristic common to both pigs and politicians is that they don't react well to force. For instance, people who are inexperienced in moving pigs might open a gate and then start pushing and yelling, trying to get a whole group to move together. This approach might eventually get the job done, but there will be lots of squealing and fighting before it's over. And, chances are, at least a few pigs will make a panicked push the opposite way and somebody's going to get hurt.

A more effective approach is to calmly and patiently move a few pigs at a time, giving them time to investigate the environment as they move forward. It might seem to take more time, but in the long run it's quicker. A similar approach is likely to be effective in convincing politicians to move in a particular direction.

Some people simply don't have the temperament to work with hogs. They can't hold their tempers long enough to convince the pigs to do what they want. Likewise, some people probably do more harm than good to their causes because they approach politicians with accusations and demands rather than information and ideas.

Of course, anyone who has handled pigs knows some of them don't cooperate no matter what you do. And once a pig gets fired up, it might run past an open gate repeatedly without seeing that there is a clear, easy path forward. I'm not naming names, but there are a few politicians like that, too.

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