Why a tardigrade presidency might be what this country needs

The water bear, the survivor, uniter, and leader America needs in an election year.

In an election year long foreseen to be one of tumult, emotion, and attention, there may be one unexpected candidate capable of rising above the muck and into voters’ hearts.

And to be precise, it’s not muck. It’s sludge.

The water bear, formally known as the tardigrade, is a creature found all around the world under our feet. For more than 600 million years, the tardigrade has endured multiple extinction events and continues to astound scientists with its ability to survive the extremes of outer space, freezing temperatures, and radiation.

They may be microscopic, but with a closer look, we believe the water bear is big when it comes to presidential potential. Here are three reasons why.


The tardigrade shows us where we are headed. They are indicators of the time. Literally.

In our wastewater work, we find tardigrades quite often in our biosolids analysis. Water bears indicate the age of sludge — the solid biological material collected during the wastewater treatment process.

Their presence teaches us much about the quality of the solids and the processes active in our treatment plants.

We look to leaders who see the issues of the day clearly and indicate how to respond. The tardigrade is that leader.


The water bear is a microscopic marvel, the perfect blend of intimidating creepiness and plump huggable cuteness America has lacked in the presidency since Presidents Garfield or Polk.

As the level of magnification varies, the inner workings of digestion and motion become visible within the outer shape and substance that voters can trust.


These tiny buggers are known for their ability to endure the most extreme of conditions — from heat, to cold, to radiation, to the very vacuum of space. These guys know how to survive for the long haul, and those who study them have referred to water bears as “indestructible.”

They can even endure a dormant state called of suspended animation called cryptobiosis for more than 30 years.

Electing a leader for a 30-year reign? Hardly. The typical water bear lives between a few months and two years, depending on the species. A president capable of enduring harsh conditions and conflicts with long naps? At that rate, a four-year term or two is a healthy bet.

There will be doubters. Every leader has them.

But at this time in history when America deals with crap at home and abroad, the tardigrade has not only lived in it. It has thrived, educated, and endured.

That is leadership we deserve.



Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Official Medium channel of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland, OH