Democracy the Lion King way

By Brayton Cameron

I think it was Aristotle who said humans are political animals. Perhaps he was right, but not in the context in which he originally thought.

In a certain manner, all animals are political animals. We have herds of cattle, packs of wolves, bands of gorillas and prides of lions. On the surface, these seem like simple gatherings – like those of whiny teenagers who need their mommies to drop them off in front of the movie theater.

However, there is an underlying social hierarchy. Certainly there is an alpha of the group – a monarch or president, as it were. The manner in which the alpha is chosen is best described in the context of the anarchist political system. The strongest survive – that is the “law of the jungle,” after all.

Place this in the context of the popular Disney film “The Lion King.” In the beginning of the film, Mufasa is the strongest and therefore king.

Later, a coup develops. Scar, Mufasa’s brother, decides he would make a better king, but knowing he couldn’t beat Mufasa in a fair fight, he enlists the help of a large cackle of hyenas. Even this relates back to anarchy. There is power in numbers in an anarchist state.

A zebra left behind is usually eaten by lions. Now we see the transition from simple “law of the jungle” to trickery and plans.

This is an aspect of modern society – for example, our current president. It is clear he did not get into office based on his physical prowess but rather, through his connections. President Bush is similar to Scar and the religious right is the hyenas.

When we consider the correlations between anthropomorphic cartoon animals and our current political climate, we see our political system is not so high and mighty after all.

Anarchy is often frowned upon because of its animalistic connotations. But we can reduce our democratic system to that of an anarchist state wherein either the most powerful or best-connected become leaders.

We vote, but we vote for a very small number of people with good connections. Imagine having to choose from Zazu, Timon and Pumba for president. It is a choice, but not a free one. Connections have decided it for you.

From there we simply do as the leader suggests, much like the animal kingdom.

They don’t call it a kingdom for nothing.

In the end, humans really are political animals. But unlike Aristotle’s idea, we are political animals in the same manner in which most mammals are political.

Then again, I might be misinterpreting all this, so it is up to Aristotle to refute me. However, he is dead. So I win.

Views expressed in this humor column do not necessarily reflect the Northern Star or its staff. Send questions or comments to