The elephant, the familiar mascot associated with Grand Old Party, has symbolized the Republican Party ever since its first use in 1874 by the Republican and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Nast’s initial drawing occurred in a cartoon titled “The Third Panic,” depicting the Republican elephant stumbling into a pit across broken boards with the words “inflation,” “reform,” and “repudiation” written on them. The depiction was not flattering of his own party and emphasized his own worries about a changing party that was moving away from its political platform and falling victim to scare tactics by the Democrats, depicted as donkeys (to which the Democrats took on as a mascot as well!)
The elephant was chosen for its large size and its admirable qualities of dignity, strength, and memory. But with the modern day GOP mired in exclusivity, out of touch policies, and committed to socially conservative causes, is it time for a new mascot shake-up? It was hard to find animals that are anti-abortion or strong proponents of the free market, liberty, and defense, but here is my best (and mostly comical) attempt at it. Below are four possible animals, some more fitting than others, that would all make better mascots for the GOP than the elephant.
You may have heard of the terms “hawks” and “doves” in reference to monetary policy or war policy. The term “War Hawk” has been used for politicians that favor war in a debate over whether or not to go to war. It has also often been used in relation to the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of full employment and low inflation. A “hawk” refers to a fed member (or policymaker) who prioritizes low inflation and steady control of the money supply for long-run growth rather than a “dove” who puts stronger emphasis on lowering unemployment levels with short-run manipulations of the money supply.
Beyond monetary policy, the “hawk” mascot may be fitting for the GOP’s recent efforts to “Defeat the Debt” and “Balance the Budget” through austerity, less spending, less borrowing, and the discontinuation of expansionary monetary policy. Hawks, with their pinpoint vision, circle above and have been waiting to strike a blow to one of President Obama’s many cabinet nominees. Let’s not forget that hawks are kind of like eagles too. And who could deny the GOP’s cultural domain on Americanism and national pride?
2. Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn sheep, or Rams as they are colloquially called, are a symbol of status due to their impressive curled horns, not unlike the wealthy elite that have unfortunately, for many voters, come to symbolize the GOP. Bighorn sheep fight for dominance and hurl themselves at each other in charges of up to 20 miles an hour, similar to the current power struggle between the Tea Party, traditionalist, and new-age factions and fractions of the Republican Party. They like to fight to settle things for compromise is not an innate quality.
Another strategy both rams and Republicans like to employ is the tactic of blocking (legislation). They also will unabashedly follow females around for weeks at time “defending” (and knowing what’s best for) their lives. Though most fittingly, in 1936, Arizona Boys Scouts, representing both the haven of old, white retirees and good ol’ traditional American values, mounted a campaign to save the dwindling bighorn sheep population.
In wider culture, the beaver is famed for its industriousness. Beavers always work at night and are prolific builders, able to rebuild large dams overnight. In fact, the English verb “to beaver” means to work hard and constantly. Beavers are monogamous partners for life and are dedicated homemakers, committed to the home. At times, beavers can dam up the progress of natural flowing rivers, but also have been shown to improve the living quality of their habitat.
The actions of beavers improve the health of water systems with their logging, although humans observing all the downed trees might think the beavers were doing just the opposite. Beavers have poor eyesight and vision, but are quick to loudly signal an alarm by forcefully slapping water with their broad tails. Unfortunately for beavers, their populations have declined due to hunting for their fir (for wealthy accessories) and glands used for perfume and medicine. Thus, beavers, like Republicans have lost numbers amongst the youth and the millennial generation because they are too associated with the old boys club and protecting the rich.
4. Domestic house cats
In full disclosure, I don’t quite love Republicans as much as I do cats, but there are some parallels that can be made between them. They are fiercely independent and focused on maintaining the private enterprise of individuals. Cats prefer the social status quo with them on top (let’s not pretend that humans own cats. It’s very much the other way around). They are strong on defense and reactionary beings. They also oftentimes care very little about the welfare of others. They are a symbol of the home. The GOP could use some cat-like qualities, for cats are comforting creatures and universally likable. Cats could alleviate some of the fears about the party’s future, for they are predisposed with nine lives and virtually un-killable too!