Sept. 30, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

A Children’s Primer on Politics?

Anyone with kids has spent a lot of time reading books with fewer than 10 words on a page. But as the political environment heats up, what looks like a harmless bedtime story can turn into a hidden political message or even astute political analysis.

At least, if you’re like me and have elections on the brain.

When you live in Washington, D.C., amid endless partisan bickering, elephants can seem like more than just elephants, and even blue-colored dogs — imagined in 1961 long before the fiscally conservative Democrats assumed the moniker — can take on outsized meaning.

Or maybe I just need more sleep, given  that there’s a newborn in the family.

But consider the New York Times best-seller “Duck for President” by Doreen Cronin. It looks like a feel-good story of an ordinary water fowl with semi-ordinary chores winning an election to take over the farm. Duck uses his new post as a launching pad to get elected governor and then chief executive of the United States before realizing the job ain’t all it’s quacked up to be.  

Duck’s climb wasn’t without controversy. In his first election on the farm, Duck instituted some strict voter registration guidelines. Under protest from the mice, Duck relented and removed the height requirement. But potential voters were still required to show valid identification. Duck’s subsequent victory likely was met with a lawsuit from Farmer Brown and Democrats claiming voter suppression, given that the fight over voter identification is an age-old battle between the two parties that rages on today. 

The Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee send regular emails trying to fundraise off the fear that Republicans are trying to suppress voters in some key states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin and Texas. No word on whether Mr. Brown’s farm is being added to the watch list. 

For Democrats, “Go, Dog. Go!” might just provide piercing political analysis that could elicit nightmares if read right before going to bed. 

On the surface, the P.D. Eastman classic features dogs of all colors involved in crazy antics that might make more sense under the influence of an illegal substance. But those antics include a blue dog, in a car, “Going away. Going away fast.” Sound familiar? Those few words are descriptive of House Democrats’ problems.

“Why are they going fast in those cars? What are they going to do? Where are those dogs going?” the characters ask in the book. Apparently, they’re going anywhere but back to Congress.

During the past couple of years, the ranks of Blue Dog Democrats have been decimated. The group of self-described fiscal conservatives used to boast more than 50 Members, but it was sliced in half after the 2010 elections. Some of the Blue Dogs retired while others lost re-election, but unfortunately for Democrats, the exodus is not over.  

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