Posted by Terri McCormick On November - 3 - 2013

politicalanimalA political animus (political animal) has little to do with gender, ethnicity or religion. In fact, gender is indeterminable. Far beyond any differences in anatomy or stereotypes of male or female; black, white, Asian, Latino, or Native American; or religion is a psyche that can only be attributed to the political class. All we need do is study the proverbial political fish tank to cast some light on what is meant by “political animus.”

Those thriving as politicians swimming in their proverbial “schools” often do so as the beneficiaries of their respective sharks in their front rows. With the self-purported generosity of individuals and groups paying homage to the sharks in the front row, cash for campaigns is assured. The term leadership, in the context of front-row politics, has spawned what I will refer to as “pisci-humus,” a political animal all its own. As you look at the political fish tank, there are the sharks on the top (closest to the fish food); the swimmers in the middle, who remain close to their constituents; and the bottom-dwellers, who catch the droppings from the top.

There are political outsiders who have not been brought into the inner circle and the intimate deal-making and trading that goes on to ensure that the top feeders (the front row) remain in power. But decisions are not made for the greater good or even on behalf of the ideology of one political party over the other. It is all about keeping the front row in power—or it was, up until the majority shake-ups in the 2006 midyear elections.

There are visionaries, or “idea people,” who make up the swimming class. These individuals are usually swimming against the current, unless they are brought up into a holding tank and judged as to just how hungry they are for a seat near the front. Often, the swimmers are thrown to the back row because they raise questions of ethics or refuse to fall in line when orders from the front row violate the rule of law. Unfortunately, these swimmers are destined for failure—they just can’t stop doing what they believe is right.

Somewhere in between, we have combinations of all types of candidates and legislators. It is in this gray pool of water that the “go-along-to-get-along” politicians live. If they connect with the sharks on the top of the tank, they soon believe that they, too, must become predatory to get along in the world of politics. At times, this go-along-to-get-along group can include over 70 percent of the legislative body.

Meantime, the wannabes are jockeying for position continually. They are not a part of the top feeders in the front rows of either political party, and they are not a part of the middle swimming class. The wannabes support the power of the status quo in the hope that they will be promoted up. They will do anything to support the people who are making deals in the front (on the top of the tank). They are often swayed by and join forces with the predatory fish on the top of the tank. Their hope is that some of the crumbs will fall their way. The front row makes the rules and skews the game of politics to their own interests. Consider campaign cash as fish food—it is a wise shark that guards the food for itself. In direct conflict with this political-gender swimming on the top are those who work for change and believe in citizen-led legislatures. It takes much more effort to swim against the current of the status quo of self-interest than it does to generate new ideas and call for reform on behalf of the people. What is the result of this fish-tank politic? There are many more politicians who are coerced or are comfortable with the old-style politic of falling in line than with the new politic of swimming upstream.

My favorite minority class of political fish is the up-and-coming outsiders! This class in the political ecosystem represents those who are waiting for an opportunity to lead and have their ideas heard. Often, this group doesn’t have an opportunity to present their ideas because of the nastiness of the predatory top feeders, but this group of swimmers simply cannot be bossed or bought—and they are infuriating to the front row. Despite the obstacles and games played, it is this group of swimmers to whom the American people’s hopes and dreams are entrusted.

Consider the following example: If you are a citizen voter, you use the say/do ratio in your thinking—determining the ratio of what a politician says to what he or she actually does. The political class says many things while proclaiming beliefs and party platforms. Republicans, for example, are often associated with the idea that we should tax less and spend less of the public’s money. Take a look at the following spending issue as it relates to ….To continue reading this book, get your copy of “What Sex is a Republican” in paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon.

About the Author:

Terri McCormick is an author, policy expert, educator, and former state representative to the Wisconsin State Legislature. Today, she offers her expertise in public and government relations through McCormick Dawson CPG Ltd., a trusted consultancy of independent contractors.

Ms. McCormick serves as president and CEO of the company, drawing from more than two decades of professional experience, a strong educational foundation, a host of industry-related publications, and a multitude of accolades, awards and formal recognitions. Holding a Master of Arts in administrative leadership from Marian University, and a Bachelor of Science in political science and public administration from the University of Wisconsin, Ms. McCormick received both degrees with high honors.

“What Sex is a Republican?” is sold on Amazon in both the paperback edition as well as Kindle editionRead reviews on Amazon here.

Terri McCormick honored for excellence in government relations by Cambridge's Who's Who industry experts