Americans don't want campaign cows

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Politicians can have a tough time winning votes.

In this country, our candidates routinely trot out five-point plans and promise to find more tax dollars for schools and lock up more criminals.

But at least one presidential candidate in Sri Lanka has a more direct approach. The wealthy businessman, who runs an herbal medicine empire, said he'll buy a cow for every home if he is elected.

Even families who live in apartments could benefit if they have some place to keep a cow, candidate Victor Hettigoda told reporters

Now that's a real campaign promise.

The candidate insists it's a good way to fight malnutrition and help people prosper.

Maybe so. But I can't imagine our presidential candidates following suit.

For one thing, most Americans don't want livestock. Zoning regulations would make it illegal for most Americans living in cities to keep cows in their yards.

It's tough enough keeping a goat in Cape Girardeau. Just ask a certain local fraternity.

In our high-tech society, voters would be more interested in getting the latest electronic gadget.

Junior-high-school students would like this stuff too, but their cries would fall on deaf ears. They don't vote.

When it comes to campaign promises, I have a suggestion for candidates.

They should consider making a pledge to ban all those gift catalogs that fill up mailboxes this time of year.

It's an environmental nightmare. Think of all those poor trees that are being cut down to provide us all those pages of gift items.

These days when I open my mailbox, I'm besieged with catalog after catalog trying to sell me everything from sweaters to plants, and all manner of knickknacks.

It's overwhelming. Even a skillful shopper like my wife, Joni, throws away many of the catalogs without so much as a quick glance.

Judging from these publications, Santa's elves are going to really be overworked this year. Just lugging around all those catalogs is hard work.

And, no, I don't want my political leaders promising to provide every household with a potted plant. For one thing, people in California might mistakenly think candidates are promising them pot plants.

That clearly would be popular with some folks, but legally it's a questionable tactic and one sure to draw fire from the law-and-order crowd.

Now a boxed DVD set of the "Charmed" TV series, which focuses on the adventures of three adventurous witches, would draw my teenager's attention.

As for animals, Becca wouldn't want a cow. She prefers chicken.

But she doesn't want a live chicken. She wants one that's already been cooked and shaped into little nuggets.

That probably wouldn't go over big in Sri Lanka. But in the good old USA, nuggets are just part of our fast-food lifestyle.

Sri Lanka's Hettigoda thinks his offer of cows is a wonderful campaign promise. He says the excess milk could be converted into cheese and butter, and even exported.

I like a politician who is sincere with the voters and has an economic policy.

And if he runs out of cows, he can always check some of those gift catalogs for knickknacks he can dole out to his countrymen.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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