By Janice Willis-Barnett
Did you know that a group of college students once tried to run a pig for President? Really, they did. The pig’s name was Pigasus and he was the candidate nominated by the Youth International Party or Yippies as they were called. The Yippies gathered at the Chicago Civic Center and announced Pigasus’ nomination for President in 1968. And several of the Yippies ended up in jail. The Chicago police, who arrested them, reportedly said their pig had “squealed” on them. But lucky for the Yippies, they were released after each posted a $25 bond.
In 1968, when the Yippies tried to run old Pigasus the Pig for President, I was a student at Warren Wilson College, over in Swannanoa, North Carolina. My Grandmother Higgins had insisted that if I was going to college that I go to Warren Wilson because it was a “good Presbyterian school.” Granny had been educated by Presbyterian missionary, Jennie Moore at Rocky Fork, and by Presbyterian teachers in the boarding school that Miss Moore sent her to in Madison County, North Carolina. My mother was happy with the fact that I could earn my tuition at Warren Wilson by working on the school’s work study program.
By today’s electronic media standards, Warren Wilson, like many other small colleges, was sort of in its own little world. All students worked to pay for all or part of their tuition. By the time we did our jobs, went to class, and kept up with our studies, we didn’t have much time for TV. So I don’t remember much about the Yippies, except for Pigasus the pig. Actually, I may have heard something about Pigasus on our television at home before leaving for college. In 1968, a lot of folks here had only one channel that had good reception. For us this was WJHL in Johnson City. The Bristol Channel was always snowy.
Now, we can view political coverage nonstop and choose the channels and commentators that support our views. Some folks would say this doesn’t help make for an informed electorate. Others might say it keeps us from having a stroke or a heart attack. At the beginning of this political season, I was laughing. Could what I was seeing on the screen really be happening? We Americans have a way of laughing at the shenanigans of politicians, even though the part they play in our lives can be so serious. Laughter is one of the ways we keep our sanity, especially during Presidential election years. But there are always things about political races that aren’t entertaining. And we certainly don’t need our political coverage anymore “filtered.”
The world has changed and it hasn’t changed since the Yippies tried to run Pigasus the Pig for President, and we had limited television coverage. Question is, do we need another Pigasus to add humor to the current race or do we already have one?