The Politics of Cow

by Barry Denton

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of this publication.

The election cycle seems like it begins very early these days. It is headline news and we are still over one year away from the actual election. If I remember correctly the first primary is in February.

The first thing that comes to mind is how many of these candidates from either party own cattle? How many know what it is like to get up at 4:00 a.m. in the winter, ride a cold backed horse four miles over frozen ground to a water hole, find some wood, build a fire, so you can stay warm while chopping ice for cattle?

If you asked any of the candidates that question at the next debate, they would ask you why you were talking about things that have not happened in over one hundred years. Little do they know. Traditionally ranchers and cowboys do not change much.

The candidates would want to know why you didn’t drive to the water hole in a nice warm pickup. They do not understand that there are no roads to the water hole.

Cowboying has always been dangerous work. If you do not think so then look at what it costs to insure the cowboy working for you. If your employee is horseback the premium goes way up. Cowboys used to be a dime a dozen, now they are a rare breed and have become more valuable.

So continues the saga of the rancher trying to make a buck. In the last four years which politician has helped the cowman the most? Any? Not that I know of.

We can all moan and groan about our elected officials, but what do we do to change it in our favor? Normally we vote for the guy that we think is the least damaging to our way of life.

I do not know what good that does us as it is the city folk that determine elections. I would venture to say that we need to change the entire process.

The first thing I would do is require politicians to wear jump suits like
NASCAR drivers. No more coat and ties. The politicians could sew on a patch for each corporation or millionaire that gives them money. Then the public would know exactly who they were voting for. If there wasn’t a New Mexico (or your state) Agriculture patch on a particular candidate then why vote for him or her? The way it is now, we do not have a clue who is supporting whom. It only seems fair to me.

Can you imagine a politician actually having to disclose something? Most will never answer a direct question. Remember these are the folks making rules for you to live by. Why do we need those fools making rules for good honest hard working folks? It is time we made a few rules for our misguided elected officials.

Let’s talk about a rule that really sticks in my craw that was made by alleged cattlemen. I am talking about the “Beef Checkoff” designed by National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA). Every time we sell a bovine at auction we have to pay a dollar to this program whether we endorse it or not. In my book this is extortion.

How is this any different than the mob getting a portion of your sales if your store is in a mob neighborhood? I would say that it is even worse as you do not get a choice on paying in. At least with the mob you can refuse them. You may get your legs broken, but at least you have the option. I guess the upside is that the NCBA won’t break your legs.

When you start your day tomorrow I want you to look around your ranch and point to the good things that the NCBA has done for you. Make a list and mail it to me. Next month we can compare lists. Do not mail it “postage due” even though your stamp money has gone to NCBA.

We should change the entire election process and get the money out of it. I was recently speaking with a former gubernatorial candidate that lost in the primary. This particular candidate was determined to save the country from lobbyists while running. The candidate came to our small town and railed against big business and lobbyists.

The candidate explained how evil lobbyists were and how corrupt our system was because of it. When I asked the candidate what job they had since losing the primary, the candidate had become a lobbyist. No, I am not kidding, a true story.

I think we cowmen need to run a candidate that comes off as anti cow. Let them spread the word of how bad cattle are and then as soon as they get elected they will immediately advocate for us. We are going to have to be as dishonest as the other side to get anything done. I suggest we find an errant cattle trader that is just getting out of jail for our next candidate.

I keep reading about these disruptive nuts that belong to “Black Lives Matter”. It never dawned on me that they were talking about black people. That would be a good line for the Angus folks. Maybe more like “Black Cows Matter” this would be true, as most of what sells the best today are black cattle.

Next time that you are hauling a few cattle to the sale to pay a few extra bills I want you to ask yourself these questions. Why does my congressman have a better health plan and pension than me? Why am I forced to pay for it? Why is not the term “career politician” an oxymoron? Remember, it is not the working person or cattle that cause the problems in this country.  n