One more time…if we don’t learn from history we are bound to experience it, again.
While preparing a talk I’m giving about symbols I decided to use those for the two major political parties of the United States: the Donkey or Jackass and the Elephant. To my surprize I discovered they stuck as symbols back in the 1800’s when political cartoonist used them to lampoon a couple of our Presidents.
First, the symbol for the Democratic Party. The donkey is symbolic of patience, forbearance, suffering and stubbornness. It relates to having great stamina but not much power and creativity. And it concerns the feeling that there is a need for martyrdom to be expressed in satisfying another's wants, needs, and desires. The jackass symbolizes a stupid remark or action.*
Our 7th President, Andrew Jackson, was lampooned as a donkey. He genuinely feared the rise of a moneyed elite that he believed was bent on enriching themselves at the expense of the hardworking people of the United States and said in his Farewell address to America in 1837 : "...unless you become more watchful...and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given...away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations."
It’s rather interesting that the quote is being similarly said by many a person today and found in our current newscasts.
Second, the symbol for the Republican Party. The elephant symbolizes the need to be thick skinned as it indicates a belief that survival requires hard work and sustaining energy because gaining power is of primary importance. It also indicates an inability to be forgiving due to the refusal to ever forget anything from the past.*
It was another political cartoonist, disgusted with the numerous scandals caused by our 17th President, Ulysses S. Grant’s lack of personal accountability among his subordinates and the cabinet members of his administration, who drew the Republican “vote” as a marauding elephant that became commonly used by other cartoonists eventually to be immediately recognized as the emblem for the Republican Party.
Once again, those scandals and lack of accountability by our political administrations could be easily related as a news item today.
Clearly, a symbol does not have to be kind to whatever or whomever it depicts for it to catch-on and stay stuck.
*"The Sandman’s Treasury", May Sinclair Copyright 2011