The Edmond Sun


August 17, 2012

Don’t get saddled with political baggage

EDMOND — As we enter the closing days of this election cycle, let’s take a few minutes to remember Aesop’s fable of the horse, the hunter and the stag. Here’s how it goes. A simmering grievance between the horse and stag erupted into a nasty argument. The spiteful horse requested the hunter’s help in exacting revenge. The hunter agreed. After all, their combined abilities would be more than enough to bring the stag to defeat.

As they planned their vengeful campaign, the hunter persuaded the horse to allow himself to be saddled. “The stag is fleet and we must be as fleet if we hope to catch him. Since I am not as fast as you or the stag, I will need to be on your back during the pursuit. And, in order to prevent me from falling off, I must have a secure place to sit.” This made good sense to the horse, so he agreed. He stood passively as the hunter put the saddle on his back. “After all,” said the Hunter, “it’s the two of us against the arrogant stag.”

Next, the hunter produced a bridle and bit. “I have a secure place to sit, but it would advance our cause if I had something to hold onto. These reins will facilitate our communication while we are at a full gallop. After all, we have to work together to see the arrogant stag gets what’s coming to him.” So the horse willingly opened his mouth and allowed the bit to be placed between his teeth.

Once the horse was saddled and bridled, he and the hunter galloped off to the chase. Sure enough, the stag was no match for the combination of the hunter’s shrewdness and the horse’s strength and speed. The proud stag was overcome and humiliated.

As the horse with the hunter mounted on his back stood gloating over the defeated stag, the horse expressed his appreciation for the hunter’s role in the victory. Since the struggle was over, the horse politely asked the hunter to dismount. But, to the horse’s dismay, the hunter liked the idea of having a saddle on the horses and the iron bit in his teeth. So the hunter decided to make the arrangement permanent. The sorrowful horse lived the rest of his life as the unwilling servant of the opportunistic hunter. Moral: If you allow others to use you for your own purposes, they also will use you for theirs.

We see in this fable how easy it is to slip from being a co-laborer in some exploit to becoming the victim of some exploitation. Let’s take a look at how this dynamic may be playing out on the field of modern American politics.

Suppose a shrewd candidate for president discerns some seething grievance threatening to divide America’s body politic. Suppose he devises a plan to magnify the lines of disagreement thus increasing the simmering sense of unfairness. Suppose he keeps adding fuel to the flames of suspicion and envy thus magnifying divisions and amplifying the level of hysterics in the arguments.

Once the sense of grievance erupts into an open social wound, this crafty politician says to some gullible voters, “If you look the other way while I short-circuit the legislative process, all of us working together can defeat our mutual adversary and we can get even.” The shortsighted voters willingly allow themselves to be saddled with a gross departure from their constitutional moorings. They believe this is the path to victory and social justice. Once the master manipulator discerns his constituents are standing still for the saddle, he has another proposition. “I’m going to traffic in gross untruths and misleading half-truths and I need you to keep your mouth shut about it. After all, these lies and distortions will help us win.” So the manipulator’s supporters allow their voices to be silenced by the iron bit of deception.

The expectation is that the devious politician will ride these voters to victory. Then what? They will find themselves saddled by government unrestrained by constitutional safeguards. They will find themselves gagged by political leaders who have no scruples about saying whatever is expedient to achieve their political ends.

These voters, motivated as they were by spite and a sense of grievance, will, at first, revel in their victory. Later, they will wake up to find themselves the lifelong servants of professional manipulators. The saddest thing about this scenario is this: Some of those so willing to allow themselves to be exploited in this endeavor will find they are perfectly happy wearing the saddle and bit forever. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.


Text Only
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results