© 2024 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Donkeys And Elephants...And A Lone Wolf? Oh My!

DonkeyHotey, flickr Creative Commons

Let me just say that as a political cartoonist, I love having the Republican elephant and Democratic donkey symbols to work with. They are so universally understood that I notice when speaking to elementary school students that by the ages of 9 or 10, most of them know what the elephant and the donkey stand for.

Thanks to mid-19th century cartoonist icon Thomas Nast for inventing the Republican elephant and popularizing the Democratic donkey. The Donkey actually had begun during the presidency of Andrew Jackson in the late 1820s. Jackson was called a jackass for some of his populist positions, and he had the good sense to not have his feelings hurt about it. He even began using the symbol himself thereby disarming some of his critics.

I’m glad I wasn’t cartooning during that time as I just hate it when politicians have the ability to laugh at themselves. It’s so much more fun to draw them when they combine self-importance with a thin skin. Among the characters I’ve drawn that have aggravated me by their self-effacing senses of humor are former Wichita mayor Bob Knight, Senator Pat Roberts and Congressman Mike Pompeo. I won’t mention the names of the ones who played right into the hands of cartoonists by acting like they had a stick up their you-know-whats, but you might be able to guess who they were.

But what is a cartoonist to do with an independent like Greg Orman who is running against Roberts? Elephant, donkey, or something else? He’s being pretty sly about which side he’d take…maybe a fox? Could he turn out to be a chameleon? Keeping his cards close to his vest may make him a shark – a card shark that is. Is he a lone wolf?

At any rate, here’s a great big, heart-felt apology for all the insulting comparisons over the centuries. Our animal friends are so undeserving of our comparing them to politicians.

Richard Crowson is not only a editorial commentator for KMUW. He's also a cartoonist, an artist and a banjo player.