Bolton’s Bias: Castrating pigs doesn’t prepare you for leadership

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.


The pig sty is full of swine wallowing in the thick black slime that covers the ground in and around the sty. The metal walls and roof only serve to echo their sharp squeals and graveley grunts as I swing my leg over the fence to muck their home.

This is one of two experiences I have in common with Joni Ernst. Here is the other.

I was standing in the dim light from a single naked bulb in the pen under my friend Jeff’s rickety barn. “Here, Will, you hold his head and Jeff will get the tail and hips as I brand him,” Jeff’s dad said as he took the bander and crouched down under the bull’s stomach. I heard a snap from the rubber band under the bulls hips and a musky half snort from the bull. Jeff’s dad stood up. We had just castrated a bull and I felt a little guilty.

Now elect me to represent you in the Senate.

That is what Joni Ernst sounds like when she says “I’m Joni Ernst, I grew up castrating pigs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington I’ll know how to cut pork,” in her most widely run campaign commercial.

Ernst is a senator from Iowa who was placed on a national stage when she was chosen to do a Tea Party rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. She served as an Iowa State Senator from 2011 to 2014 and, as a rising star in Republican political circles, is considered to be a potential candidate for Vice President in the future.

I can assure you that my experiences working with pigs and castrating animals did absolutely nothing to prepare me for a life in politics, leadership, or making decisions (unfortunately, the first has little to do with the last two anymore) should I chose to pursue one.

I am, therefore, quite confused at her decision to include such a bizarre anecdote in a commercial that is trying to win votes. Now, it is true that my experiences are different than hers, so maybe there is some magic preparation for government jobs in castrating pigs as opposed to bulls.

But I seriously doubt it.

Really, Joni Ernst? I am not even certain that I can say “castrating” this much in a newspaper article without getting into trouble for bad taste, so what made you think it was acceptable to use it in an ad that is being shown across the nation? Furthermore, I don’t feel as if I need to explain how faulty that analogy is, unless a rational person can really compare spending money to a pig’s reproductive organs.

Her supporters will say that it was a joke meant to entertain the viewers and turn an otherwise boring commercial into a funny experience. They will be lying. It is clearly a feeble attempt to appear rural, humble, and hardworking. The problem is that people who are actually like that don’t have to, and never would, attempt to prove it.

I wish I could say that campaign strategies such as this bizarre, superficial, attempt to fit into the culture of the voters is an oddity in America. Unfortunately it is clear that politicians would rather talk than say anything. The distinction between talking and saying is an important one illustrated by Ernst and campaign ads from other politicians.

It would be easy for politicians to get in front of a video camera and shoot an ad saying what they want to do, how they plan on doing it, and what impacts it would have on the American people. That is the information people need to know in order to vote. People do not need an illustration of how country you are and she is most definitely not the only one who is guilty of it. Every politician, including Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, who partakes in this farce should be heavily scrutinized.

It’s not even that I have a problem with our leadership being farmers or growing up with ties to the land. I just discussed the fact that I have similar experiences and I value the people who do that hard work immensely.

Someone has to castrate pigs or we all don’t get fed bacon. The point is that being a farmer and working hard is not a medal to dangle in front of the eyes of voters to distract them from what they should be paying attention to: your political platform. But that’s exactly how she, and others, use it.

Her ads are not the only aspect of her efforts on the campaign trail which are perfectly representative of superficial campaigning and are much more widespread than they should be. Politicians have become obsessed with the idea that pretending to be revolutionaries or militia members will get them votes. It is clear by how many of them get in bed with the NRA. The way she discusses guns and rights is frighteningly common in Washington.

“I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.” Ernst said, after discussing her “beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter.”

Again, I do not have a problem with gun owners or people who are protective of their families and rights. It’s the way that politicians use these aspects of their lives to seem tougher and rural. It has nothing to do with the decisions that they will make in office, which is what people should be paying attention to when they vote.

Politicians in general, and specifically Joni Ernst, need to cut the 1776 act. No one cares if you have a handgun that you are willing to use on federal law enforcement officials if you believe your rights are being violated.

You just threatened to shoot employees of the government that you work for if you decide that your rights are violated, but guess what? We have an entire branch of government that makes sure that your rights are protected so it’s not left up to individuals with,“beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter[s].” It seems like you missed that in the pig pen, and if that is the case, it’s better for all concerned for you to stay there.

Will Bolton is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and