Of Donkeys and Elephants, Lemmings and Rabbits

Donkeys and elephants are out. It’s time to award new symbols to our two political parties. The old ones—the smart, brave Democrat donkey and the dignified strength of the Republican elephant no longer work.

Andrew Jackson was the first politician associated with the now famous democrat donkey. His opponents called him a jackass and he made the best of it on his campaign posters in the 1828 election. Newspaper cartoonist Thomas Nast took up the symbol, and it stuck. Nast also branded the Republicans with the elephant in an 1874 cartoon.

Our modern political scene demands new symbols that more accurately represent today’s predominant political parties: the lemming and the rabbit.

The Democrats deserve the lemming, that animal which blindly follows its fellows—seeing nothing but the tail in front, scurrying in long lines to its ultimate destination: the edge of a cliff. Impervious to reason, logic, or intellect, it willingly plunges to its death, just because everybody else is. (Never mind that this depiction of lemming behavior is refuted by scientists—the metaphor stands.) Lemming mass suicide accurately portrays those who unquestioningly follow popular opinion, in spite of obviously outrageous outcomes.

Thus, the Democrats. Impervious to the reality of a nation in dire peril as it hangs on the edge of financial and legislative disaster, they scurry forward with economic policies to take this nation over the edge of the fiscal cliff. In a nation struggling with a hemorrhaging job market, they propose health care that will bankrupt small business owners, gut jobs, and perform radical surgery on working hours. In a nation already suffocating from bureaucratic overload, they will heave 25,000 pages of new rules, with their enforcers, on society’s stockpile. In a nation whose government should be wed to its founding document, they blithely flout the rule of law. They ignore laws they dislike, write self-serving new ones to replace them, and disregard the blood and tears “We, the People” paid when we signed our constitutional contract over two centuries ago.

That brings us to the rabbits—Republican rabbits. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? The symbol of timidity, rabbits are known to cower in fear when menaced. They live in groups and are fragile, hesitant creatures that startle easily. Docile by nature, when threatened they may make noise, lunge and occasionally even bite, but they do no harm. Rabbit lore is pitifully lacking in stories of dominant rabbits who stand up to their opponents.

Republicans have earned the rabbit as their identifying symbol. Their political role is to offer an alternative to bureaucratic overload, crippling taxation, and socialist agendas. Timid and inadequate, they cower before Democratic offensives, protesting impotently that the job is too hard—it can’t be done. They whimper ineffectually over the political advantage seized by their opponents, who bypass constitutional law in order to rewrite the country’s national character. Courage and constitutional fortitude have been bred out of them as they crave the opiate called “I need to be re-elected”. The art of compromise too often becomes the art of capitulation.

So, if the donkeys have become lemmings and the elephants have become rabbits, what have We, the People become? In times past we have soared like the eagles, with prosperity and freedom on our wings. Today we are the lambs, being led to the slaughter.