The Cats and Dogs Theory of Politics

Politics looks complicated but it’s actually very simple. As an aspiring leader you are looking for people to follow you, to be inspired by your penetrating insights, to hand out how-to-vote cards for you, and – most important of all – to love you. So here’s how it works. Think of your adoring supporters as pets and everything will fall into place.

As F Scott Fitzgerald once said, "[A]lmost everybody can be imagined as either a cat or a dog.” Dog-like supporters like to belong to packs. They appreciate a strong leader who can tell them who to bark at, who to slobber over, and who to chase, tear apart and bury in small well-chewed pieces under the rose bushes at the back of the garden.

To become the leader of the pack you’re going to need to understand a bit of dog politics. As the alpha male or female you need to convince your supporters that you are:

  1. One of them; and
  2. Willing and able to put down any rival (with extreme prejudice if necessary).

Dogs won’t follow a leader who they suspect doesn’t share their values and way of life. If they catch you sipping French wine or drinking soy latte with a little napkin tied around the glass then you’re gone. If your pack are into guns and Jesus then you have to be into guns and Jesus too.

You’ll need to be tough and decisive. If you show signs of wanting to give up your leadership – for example by consulting the pack or acknowledging that maybe non-pack members have a point – then you’re just asking to be viciously attacked and de-throned. Real alphas know what’s right by instinct. They don’t have to ask and they don’t have to think.

Your doggie followers will also need plenty of exercise. They need plenty of things to bark at, chase, and chew on. Illegal immigrants, greenies, and dole bludgers are all good for keeping them occupied and out of trouble.

Cats are different. From a cat’s point of view you are a servant. In return for a little bit of smooching and lap warming it’s your job to keep them supplied with an appropriate level of goods and services. Cats are aspirational. However much food there is in their bowl, they always want more. Cats are also status conscious. If any other cat has more food in its bowl then any self respecting cat will resent you for not intervening on its behalf. Cats are moderately conservative by nature, but will eventually move house if they think they can get a better deal.

Cats are convinced that they are smarter than you are. They are always quick to offer you policy advice. Just as furry felines hate vacuum cleaners, political cats hate airports. They will always recommend that an airport should be somewhere else.

Cats don’t like being yelled at or dominated. They expect to be reasoned with or bribed. Every cat has its own agenda and they expect to deal with you as an individual not as a member of a flock. Cats like to be consulted – it shows that you respect them.

The key to being a leader of cats is to appeal to their vanity and self interest. Always tell your cats how wonderful and enlightened they are. If they start a campaign to save old growth forests then you should convert to environmentalism immediately. Humor them when they bury their shit in an effort to convince you it doesn’t stink. And always make sure that their houses rise in value and that their interest rates are low. Under no circumstances should you bark at them menacingly.

While dogs need to believe that you are one of the pack, cats don’t care how you live. A cat’s mind really doesn’t stretch that far. They like to mind their own business and will only bother you when they’re bored or at election time when they’ll hover around the refrigerator clawing at you legs. If the goodies don’t appear on demand a hungry cat is likely to go chat someone else up. It’s your choice.

So by now you’re probably wondering whether you have to choose. Is it possible to have both cats and dogs? The answer is yes. In fact, you can’t win an election without keeping a few of both groups. Perhaps the best strategy is to keep your dogs happy with plenty of barking, chasing, and chewing while saving the costly bribes for the cats.

And no… you can’t win an election by appealing to hamsters.

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Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Fun anology.

But we’re primates.

Hootin’ and groomin’ is the key.

Alan Green
2022 years ago

People up the other end of the office are wondering what’s so funny. Thankyou, Don.

Carrie
2022 years ago

Too damn funny. And it’s the truth. Yet somehow by using cats and dogs it’s funny. I’m sure that’s sad in some way but at least it gets the point across. :-)

harry
harry
2022 years ago

_Social_ grooming, Nabs.

Any flies on you?

trackback
2022 years ago

Political Theory

The Perfect way to understand politics.