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A New Mascot for the Democrats

If the donkey isn't cutting it, maybe the Democrats should get a new mascot?

Patrick Powers

It's apparent that the political parties are both unpopular. During last year's local elections the campaign yard signs told the story. Many signs in my northern Michigan town did not mention the party at all. For those that dared bare their affiliation, the type was quite small. The Republican elephant makes a few modest appearances, while the Democratic donkey was a no-show. If the donkey isn't cutting it, maybe the Democratss should get a new mascot?

The donkey symbol has been around ever since early presidential candidate Andrew Jackson was called a jackass by John Quincy Adams. Jackson adopted said ass as a his symbol on campaign posters. The idea was that Jackson represented the common man as opposed to neo-aristocrats like John Quincy. Jackson was elected, so we can say the jackass worked for him. But the donkey didn't catch on as a permanent symbol until the 1870s cartoons by Thomas Nast that symbolized the parties as specific animals.

The Thomas Nast cartoon that introduced the Republican elephant

Neither the elephant nor jackass was meant to be flattering. As you can see, the frightened elephant is stampeding to its death in a chasm, as elephants are wont to do. But it is easy to guess why these symbols caught on. Democrats were the party of dirt farmers too poor to own an ox. They had to settle for a donkey to pull the plow. Also, Democrats were people who resisted the powerful established heavyweight interests of the day. It was natural to adopt as a symbol the proverbially recalcitrant braying ass, whose dearth of cooperation was an endless annoyance to the farmer.

Back in the those days Democrats were outspent by Republicans ten to one. Needless to say, this is long gone, gone the way of the defenseless dodo. The Clintonesque New Democrat is eager to serve big business, and in some elections receives even more money from elephantine Wall Street than do the Republicans. The donkey has been tamed. The braying jackass just doesn't jibe with the aerobically conditioned, Rogaine-drenched New Democrat.

Indeed, a visit to the Democratic National Committee's web site reveals that therein the doughty donkey makes exactly zero appearances. What is more, the Democrats have adopted a new logo: a capital D in a circle. That's right, you read it here first. The D's have ditched the donkey. About as non-threatening as you can get, the new Democratic Party logo is highly reminiscent of that of Bell Telephone. To me, that new logo looks like something consultants were paid a couple million bucks to come up with. What could be more inoffensive than mild sky blue?

The Democratic Party and Bell Telephone Logos: Twins Separated At Birth?

The jackass as a Democratic model is way passe. But I say that that 21st century upscale upbeat market-friendly image upgrade logo just ain't gonna do it. This bland mush shaped like a Frisbee has no personality, no passion. It has no resonance, no emotional appeal at all, and these days politics is all about emotional appeal. It's not competitive with the Republican elephant, the very epitome of indomitable powerful irresistible bulk. To maintain parity, the D's have gotta have a mascot with at least equal appeal.

Hmmm... People love their dogs and cats. Cats are too stuck up and stand-offish. Gotta be a dog. Not a scary mean dog, no rottweilers or pit bulls, rather a nice, enthusiastic, upbeat, well bred and friendly sort of dog. How about...the Golden Retriever? Yeah. People love Goldens. A being endlessly willing to serve anyone willing to throw a stick and pat it on the head. As a bonus, the Golden Retriever comes with a natural motto: Eager. It has that fill-in-blank style that the Democrats are developing. Hope. Change. Anyone can fill in their own hopes and wishes. Same with Eager. Everybody likes eager. Eager for what? Fill in the blank.

Sounds like a no-brainer. Could be a vote-getter.

Patrick Powers is a bass guitarist and poet, formerly of Bali, now living in northern Michigan.

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