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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Decorating With Politics

It's political season! A presidential race is underway and we will be inundated with sound bites, spin, speeches, debates and commercials trying to get ouf vote. I thought I would look around for some decorations with political themes. You don't have to collect every elephant and donkey that you come across and saturate your home with your political collection. But you can add a few pieces to your decor as a "subtle" hint as to where your politics lie.

It was easy to find elephant decorations. They run the gamut from cute and cuddly

to majestic bull elephants charging. Disney popularized the cute and cuddly elephant with Dumbo. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence; their intelligence level is thought to be comparable to that of dolphins and primates. There are several lessons we can learn from the elephant and these too are used as its symbol: strength, wisdom, solitude, strong sense of loyalty to the family and intelligence. The white elephant was chosen by Buddha because he wanted to use it for his many incarnations. The white elephant is a rare animal and their appearance today will still be considered a phenomenon of the gods. It is the most positive animal symbol. I read where the trunk up means it stores good luck and with it down it means it's dispensing good luck.

As a Christian I don't believe in Buddha or in "luck". Or course, in the use I am making in this post, the elephant is the symbol of the Republican party.

"This symbol of the party was born in the imagination of cartoonist Thomas Nast and first appeared in Harper's Weekly on November 7, 1874. An 1860 issue of Railsplitter and an 1872 cartoon in Harper's Weekly connected elephants with Republicans, but it was Nast who provided the party with its symbol.

"Oddly, two unconnected events led to the birth of the Republican Elephant. James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald raised the cry of "Caesarism" in connection with the possibility of a thirdterm try for President Ulysses S. Grant. The issue was taken up by the Democratic politicians in 1874, halfway through Grant's second term and just before the midterm elections, and helped disaffect Republican voters.

"While the illustrated journals were depicting Grant wearing a crown, the Herald involved itself in another circulation-builder in an entirely different, nonpolitical area. This was the Central Park Menagerie Scare of 1874, a delightful hoax perpetrated by the Herald. They ran a story, totally untrue, that the animals in the zoo had broken loose and were roaming the wilds of New York's Central Park in search of prey.

"Cartoonist Thomas Nast took the two examples of the Herald enterprise and put them together in a cartoon for Harper's Weekly. He showed an ass (symbolizing the Herald) wearing a lion's skin (the scary prospect of Caesarism) frightening away the animals in the forest (Central Park). The caption quoted a familiar fable: "An ass having put on a lion's skin roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met within his wanderings."

"One of the foolish animals in the cartoon was an elephant, representing the Republican vote - not the party, the Republican vote - which was being frightened away from its normal ties by the phony scare of Caesarism. In a subsequent cartoon on November 21, 1874, after the election in which the Republicans did badly, Nast followed up the idea by showing the elephant in a trap, illustrating the way the Republican vote had been decoyed from its normal allegiance. Other cartoonists picked up the symbol, and the elephant soon ceased to be the vote and became the party itself: the jackass, now referred to as the donkey, made a natural transition from representing the Herald to representing the Democratic party that had frightened the elephant."
--From William Safire's New Language of Politics, Revised edition, Collier Books, New York, 1972


















The donkey was a little more difficult to find in decor for your home. There are plenty of donkey figurines and statues but I didn't find any "in situ" to show how you can decorate with the donkey. Decorating with a donkey is a little harder to imagine.

Jesus' Mother, Mary, rode a donkey to Bethlehem and Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. You will find donkey figurines in creches. Don Quixote's sidekick, Sancho Panza, rode a decrepit donkey on their adventures. Shrek's Donkey and Winnie the Pooh's Eeyore are also famous donkeys.

The now-famous Democratic donkey was first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign. His opponents called him a jackass (a donkey), and Jackson decided to use the image of the strong-willed animal on his campaign posters. Later, cartoonist Thomas Nast used the Democratic donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol famous.




A Goebel donkey figurine





A Lladro donkey figurine

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