By David Gole
With the election coming up, I thought it would be appropriate this week to discuss the origins of the symbols/mascots of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Democrats, symbolized by the donkey, represent the hardworking spirit of the working class American while the Republicans, symbolized by the elephant, represent the intelligence and strength of the upper class. The question about these animals is how did they become the icon for the two most popular political parties this nation has ever seen?
It all started in 1828 when a cartoonist depicted Andrew Jackson as a “Jackass” in one of his cartoons. Due to Jackson’s views and stubborn personality, instead of taking the label to heart, Jackson embraced the Donkey for his campaign – using the slogan, “Let the people rule.” Decades later, in 1870, a republican cartoonist named Thomas Nast once again tried to insult the Democratic party by depicting them as donkeys and this time, the image stuck.
Thomas Nast also unintentionally started the Republican Elephant with another political cartoon in 1874. In the cartoon, he drew a donkey wearing lion skin scaring away all the zoo animals. Along with the zoo animals was an elephant labeled “the Republican vote.” The Cartoon was intended to be a metaphor for Ulysses S. Grant running for a third term in which he faced heavy conflict by the Democratic Party.
Do these concepts, which date back over a century, still apply to each party today? What do you think?