Plowing with a mule (
by Steve Timmer
Jan 19, 2021, 8:30 PM

A parable for our times

My father, a genuine rural sage, used to tell me this story:

A farmer woke his son early one morning and told him it was time to learn to plow a field. The son was excited, as he had been looking forward to this day. After breakfast, they went to the barn and got the mule, which had already been fed, and walked him to the field where the plow was waiting from the previous day.

They harnessed up the mule who just stood there. The farmer went to the fence line and rummaged around. He found a stick and walked around to the front of the mule and gave it a whack on the forehead. The mule shook his head and then leaned into the traces, ready to go.

The boy said, But Father, you always told me to be kind to the animals!

The father replied, Yes, Son, that’s true. But in the case of mules, you sometimes have to get their attention first.

This is where we are with the Boogaloo Bois, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, their related cosplay idiots, and lots of Republicans, too. And some people who ought to know better, including some who attended tony Ivy League law schools and clerked for big shot judges, or even justices.

It does go to show you that sometimes a rural sage has greater wisdom and sense than some over-educated, overweening boobs with presidential aspirations.

But let’s see. Where was I? Oh, yes.

There are some among us who say, Let bygones be bygones; it’s a time to heal.

I agree, but like the mules, we have to get their attention first.

§ § §

There is an op-ed in the paper edition of the Star Tribune today, January 20th, that I commend to you. It’s by John Crisp of the Tribune News Service. He says that all of the assorted malcontents may come around, but regardless:

But the only thing that really matters in a democracy — the essential thing — is that they be outvoted.

I think that’s right. Don’t make the future about coddling people who are probably un-coddle-able. Donald Trump got more votes this cycle than last; the Democrats won the White House only because they got way more votes than last time, enough to overcome even the Electoral College sandbag.

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