Today on the (much) lighter side of political news: A cat named Hank is running for Congress in Virginia. Minus the fact that he's a cat, he's doing what every modern-day politician dreams of: Going viral.
Hank, who hails from the town of Springfield, has a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. He's also got his own campaign commercial. It makes some good points -- it may actually be one of the more inspirational ads we've seen this season. And he's no fool: His platform is job creation and he's a marketing whiz with a bevy of promotional materials, including 'Hank for Senate' stickers and T-shirts. He's amassing volunteers to help him get the word out. And for a cat, he knows quite a lot about press kits.
Hank is "going up against" former Virginia governors George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D), humans* who have been waging a contentious race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator James Webb (D) this year, reports Maggie Fazeli Fard in The Washington Post. In comparison to Allen's apparent lack of understanding of "how birth control pills work nor the full impact of a 'personhood amendment,'" Hank seems so... reasonable, and healthily focused on the issue of jobs at the micro and macro level.
As he—or one of his surrogates—writes on his blog:
To make our homes and our future a better and brighter place, we don't need to start at the top - we need to start right here with ourselves. If you improve the living condition of a single home, it has a ripple effect throughout the street. Improve the street, it ripples to the neighborhood. Improve the neighborhood, it ripples to the county. Improve the county, it ripples through the state. Improve the state, it ripples to the entire nation. In each of us we have the power to improve our own lives, to improve the lives of our neighboor [sic], our state, and our country.
Wow, straight talk without sensationalizing issues or stoking the flames of a culture war? We'd vote for this cat.
Alas, Hank is a cat. But ignoring for a moment how patently ridiculous his "candidacy" is, you almost have to wonder whether a cat could, given another few decades of feline-human progress, actually be a contender. No, of course not! But he may at least give a small but important lesson to the human contenders: Be authentic and humble (Hank was born to a single mom and saved by an animal rescue group, then adopted). Also, work hard (Hank put himself "through school while working" according to his Facebook page) and talk to the voters like they're real people without falling into rhetoric or smear campaigns. And, if you have a little extra time, learn how to use social media wisely -- no one wants another Twitter "sex scandal." Get your Facebook page together, too. These are important tools.
Still, what with the charted historical success of cats in ruling homes, and the Internet, what's more surprising than a cat running for Congress is that Hank appears to be the first feline to have jumped into the fray. If whomever is behind Hank is as sane, responsible, and media-savvy as Hank appears to be, maybe there's a dark-cat candidate in the wings for Virginia Senate after all.
*Senators must be human.