The political symbols of the donkey representing the Democratic Party and the elephant representing the Republican Party were created in the 19th Century. Both animals have been used as political symbols ever since.
The cartoonist Thomas Nast created these symbols to represent the political parties for his political cartoons. The drawings served as a commentary on politics that was particularly powerful; Nast could communicated with the uneducated or immigrants who could not read or write.
In 1871, Nast drew the Republican elephant (see above) for a cartoon titled “The Third Term Trap” in Harper’s Weekly. Nast was a supporter of the Republican Ulysses S. Grant who had already served two terms as president and was considering running for a third.
At the time, Nast was reminding Republicans that their intra-party fighting could hurt them in an election cycle.
26 elections later, both political parties may want to consider Nast’s warning from the past…while they use his symbols today.
I heard a radio story on NPR this morning where the reporter Tamara Keith noted some surprising similarities between Donald Trump (capitalist) and Bernie Sanders (socialist). The language both men use to appeal to their very different set of constituents is the same.
They both use the word “angry”…and that word appeals to either end of the political spectrum. Many pundits have called attention to the anger of the people in this election season. According to the online etymology dictionary:
angry (adj.) late 14c., from anger (n.) + -y (2). Originally “full of trouble, vexatious;” sense of “enraged, irate” also is from late 14c. The Old Norse adjective wasongrfullr “sorrowful,” and Middle English had angerful “anxious, eager” (mid-13c.).
They both use the word “huge”…and pronounce it with very distinctive New York accents. The meaning of huge:
huge (adj.)mid-12c., apparently a shortening of Old French ahuge, ahoge “extremely large, enormous; mighty, powerful,” itself of uncertain origin.
Both words appear more aligned to arguments geared for pathos, as Aristotle noted: “awakening emotion (pathos) in the audience so as to induce them to make the judgment desired.”
Full of trouble, anxious combined with mighty, powerful … a combination that is making this election season hard to predict (or “before” (see pre-) + dicere “to say”).