WHAT! Is the Donkey & Elephant all about?

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by Brian Hoffmeier

We have seen the different imagery representing Democrats & Republican, Right & Left, Red & Blue, and yes Donkey & Elephant. But why?

It has been a crazy year in Wisconsin and U.S. Politics. We have been bombarded with ads and imagery Right & Left, Red & Blue, and yes Donkey & Elephant. But why? I know most of our sports teams have mascots and for the most part they make sense, but why do our political parties have mascots and what do they mean? Today is your lucky day because I have your answer. For the most part they don't mean anything. But there is a lot of history behind them.

The Donkey— Presidential candidate Andrew Jackson was the first Democrat ever to be associated with the donkey symbol. His opponents during the election of 1828 tried to label him a "jackass" for his populist beliefs and slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson was entertained by the notion and ended up using it to his advantage on his campaign posters.

But cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with making the donkey the recognized symbol of the Democratic Party. It first appeared in a cartoon in Harper's Weekly in 1870, and was supposed to represent an anti-Civil War faction. But the public was immediately taken by it and by 1880 it had already become the unofficial symbol of the party.

The Elephant— Political cartoonist Thomas Nast was also responsible for the Republican Party elephant. In a cartoon that appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1874, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion's skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled "The Republican Vote." That's all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party.

See the official sites of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee for more information.

Poll

Which of these new Wisconsin State Fair snacks are you going to try?

  • BBQ Chicken Cone
  • Deep Fried Maple Bacon Cookie Dough
  • Reeses Funnel Cake
  • Deep Fried Racine Kringel