Of the 45 presidents the United States of America have got so far, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have especial places in that country's history. The reasons are not far to seek -one led the country to independence and the other to abolition of slavery. None of the subsequent presidents had either their namesakes or feats matching theirs so far as the social implications are concerned.
However, in that land of democracy this time a namesake of the 16th president has been elected a mayor of a small town called Fair Haven, Vermont, of only 2,500 residents. This Lincoln, though, has no first, second or middle name. He is simply Lincoln because he is no human but a goat. He will have the distinction of becoming the first honorary pet mayor of the town. Goatish -many will think! Is not goat used as slanderous term to identify a person's idiocy? But in cricket, GOAT (the greatest of all time) is an epithet reserved for the most accomplished batsman or bowler.
No wonder, people voted him to the position and it was not an easy ride for him. He polled 13 votes to his nearest rival Sammie's -- the latter being a dog and most other contestants too coming from canine and feline families --10. Credit goes to the member of the caprine family for defeating those from the canine and the feline. Mahatma Gandhi would have been pleased to see the victory of one from the caprine family.
No, there is no reason to consider the election a joke or a social satire. The newly elected mayor will grace events throughout the year and most likely to march in a parade on the Memorial Day. By the way his tenure is for only a year and to go by Goseph Gunter, town manager, he may find the contest even tougher next year because many residents rued over the missed chance of entering their pets this time. They either thought it was a joke or did not take it seriously. Now that Lincoln has become famous and will be in a custom-made sash at the time of marching in the parade, many of the townspeople feel disappointed for not taking note of the contest earlier.
The town manager himself was not very sure if the strange election would take off smoothly but local school students responded enthusiastically to make the event happen. After all it was about pets -animals that are either friendly or useful or both and often help people see life from a different perspective. The especial bond between man and animal allows the species at the top of living world to rediscover a poignant source of love and piety. It gives new meaning to life's existence.
In Fair Haven, the kids learnt about local election as the town manger claims. It is reported that the residents of the town were eligible for voting. But then why is such a small number of votes? Sure enough, in the mayoral election in our own backyard held recently, the turnout too was atrociously poor. Yet it was better than the 13 for the winner, 10 for the runner-up and 30 for the rest. One outstanding fact is that no one complained, unlike in the Dhaka North City Corporation election, of vote-rigging in Fair Haven.
The town manager has talked about children's initiation with the system of local election but what remains unsaid is that the polls have highlighted the love for animals as well. Children have participated in the preparatory works and Fair Haven residents did so for the sake of their love for their pets. The town manager arranged the election for fundraising for a local stadium and the money he needed was raised easily. The event served both purposes successfully. It is time local leaders here learnt a lesson or two from this apparently strange election.
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