Selecting An Alpha Candidate: Our Primitive Primaries

Candidates butt heads…The advantage of having dictators is that you can obey them without ever having to listen to them. That is, a dictator’s voice is heard as “do as I say”, not “listen to what I say”. A sublty not lost on Observers, who are being swamped with electoral rhetoric gone overboard. During the campaign season, the voter’s job is to tipple the fountainous words spewing from the many slobber-soaked soapboxes and ask themselves “is that me?”. Our job, here at the Metaphor Observatory, is to assess how and why these words work, at the unfortunate cost of having to listen carefully to the stumpsters.

Oddly, while candidates at both ends of the political petting zoo espouse opposing basic values, and policy centerpieces vary from cage to cage, there is a general consensus in the conceptual frameworks that all candidates swing from. They will fight, they will protect, they will care. Further, if they want to be successful, candidates’d best have a youthful, untamable mane. These are qualities one would normally associate with the priviledged lives of alpha lions and tigers and bears, rather than alpha donkeys and elephants.

First off, let’s give the word “fight” a good run for its monkey. Candidates will fight for the rights of citizens, fight to reduce taxes or fight al Qaeda. We have casually accepted this metaphor into political language without recognizing its vast subconcious meaning. To fight is to do physical battle. By cheerfully endorsing the uncivilized, brutal nature of this metaphor, we are tacitly admitting that we subconciously seek an alpha for our primate tribe. Perhaps this explains why a great proponderance of American presidents have been tall, and, arguably why they have also all been male. To us, their physical size is a metaphor for their much greater political power – we listen to them because they are bigger.

Hillary Clinton sizes up her opponents.

Enter the boxing ring: the civilized setting for a fight. Candidates duke it out with one-liner jabs and factual blows, with the hopes of delivering a knockout punch. And both the donkeys and the elephants have favorites in the political bullring, even when other contenders have proven themselves worthy. So strong was this influence, that media meleemeisters announced Romney-

McCain challenges Romney’s territory.

McCain and Clinton-Obama mano-a-mano cockfights even while sideliners Huckabee and Edwards each blew respective fouls. The stage in this election was set while it was still a race, and before the field had been narrowed to two on either side. In election rounds, it seems we only want two sides.

Among the Observatory’s favorite metaphors so far are Obama’s rawhide “carrot and stick” stance, used upperhandedly to describe America’s foreign policy with Iran. This retroticklingly reminds us of Tony Snow’s representation of the White House position regarding Kim Jong-il, which in turn reminded us of Winston Churchill, who reminded us of donkeys, carrots and sticks. Sadly, we can’t ignore Clinton’s bout-winning my-tears-of-frustration are your-tears-of-frustration – which we wouldn’t even consider to be metaphors except that many onlookers were saying to themselves “she is me“. So successful were the superfluous waterworks, that they underwent a timely and hype-pressured resurgence the day before Super Tuesday. Strength and softness: the perfect symbolism for a Democratic leader during a time of war, and, as you may know, is also used to describe bathroom tissue. We have in these primative imageries the forces of protection and nurturing that make for the perfect alpha couple.

“Yes we can” is described as a “monosylabic grunt”
by a guest on Larry King, Feb 18th.

Meanwhile, on the Republican floor, trimmed candidates Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson lost a little off the top, then a lot off their popularity. Underfunded Bible-stumping pulpitmaster Mike Huckabee was able to outyouth albiniform uberhero John McCain, and able to outscrimp slick superspender Mitt Romney. Huckabee’s youth and ability to survive (campaign funding) attrition during a time of war are especially alpha-positive attributes. But battlescar geriatrica McCain had once been a prisoner of war, and had proven by his very existence that he could fight ’til the end then, in Vietnam, and now in Iraq. It looks like McCain will also win the fight to become the Republican alpha, having defeated the elements of youth, money and energy with his big leathery sack packed with experience points.

While the names and faces change with every election, and while each new generation evolves tools for political survival in the new environment, the campaign rhetoric is always a stone’s throw from our days in the caves. The primate tribe deep within our instincts still responds to the virile, the powerful and the protective. We are animals, and apparently expect the same of our leaders. It’s just too bad we have to listen to them cackle, howl and grunt.

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