Friday, February 12, 2010

Considering a Fish for Governor

(From the February 11, 2010 Grand Haven Tribune)

“Asian Carp Enters Governors Race.” That headline was in another area newspaper last weekend. At first I laughed at the ambiguity of the headline—a fish running for governor! Hilarious.

Of course, what the headline really meant was that the Asian Carp issue had become a point of debate in the governor’s race, with two candidates having different ideas about dealing with the problem of this invasive fish. Basically, this large fish came into the Mississippi River having been carried in the ballast of international ships. It made its way all the way north to Chicago and is now threatening to enter Lake Michigan from the Chicago River. People are worried the fish will destroy the current species of fish in Lake Michigan and thus destroy the fishing business. The debate centers on whether or not to seal off the Chicago River and channel to the Mississippi River.

But then I got to thinking (this can be dangerous for me). I thought, what if the Asian Carp actually ran for governor? Well, one of them anyway.

When you think about it, our current governor came to Michigan from Canada via California. Our current president came to Washington from Hawaii via Chicago. The Carp would enter Michigan from Asia via the Mississippi River and Chicago. In fact, it hasn’t been in Chicago long, so it’s less likely to be corrupted by Chicago-style politics that some people fear. An idea for a campaign slogan: “Asian Fish? It’s no Blagojevich.”

As for people worried about the Asian Carp damaging the environment and business, well, consider this. Can a fish do more damage than any other politician? Maybe if we send the Asian Carp to Lansing they’ll be too busy to mess with Lake Michigan.

Fish are like politicians after all. They do most of what they do below the surface. They only emerge once in a while to make a brief appearance, have their moment in the sun, and cause a splash. If you get them out of their element they flip and squirm, eventually flapping their gills with eyes wide open and making a funny pouting expression. If you leave them out too long they just, well, they stink. At this point they are covered by the newspapers.

Everyone seems to want reform in government, so maybe putting a fish in charge is the kind of radical change we need. A fish would offer a new view of the scales of justice. They’d knock our current leaders off their perch and give us salmon else to talk about. The presence of a fish in charge could spawn some innovative new ideas from a new perspective. For example, education reform might be possible since fish spend most of their lives in schools. They wouldn’t do anything just for the halibut. We might finally move closer to e-fish-ent government. It might even be possible to end the partisan bickering and everyone would get along swimmingly.

In time, the fish politician concept could really take off. There could even be democrat and republican fish. We would all enter the voting booth and review a ballot of candidates and running mates from either party. It might read something like this: One Fish; Two Fish; Red Fish; Blue Fish.

But, this whole plan will likely fail. Everyone knows politicians watch polls carefully. In the same way, fish are fearful of poles. We’d have a tough time luring the Asian Carp to run for office. And of course, fish can’t run anyway. This idea just has no legs.

So, I guess we’ll have to settle for a human as governor of our state. And as for the rest of us? We’ll be left to carp about politics.