Flowing from a conversation over a beer the other day, I have had a quick read of the Wikipedia entry for the symbol(s) of the USA Democratic party. It is fascinating, a story of turning weakness into strength, criticism into pride.
Starting at the beginning, what is now called the Democratic party actually called itself the “Republican Party”. They were labelled Democratic by their opposition in an attempt to stigmatise them as purveyors of democracy or mob rule. Over time the party adopted this as their name, with obvious feelings of pride in the label.
Getting back to the symbols, it seems that there has not been an “official” symbol until quite recently, although there have been unofficial ones. Most notably the donkey.
During intense mudslinging in 1828, Andrew Jackson’s critics had labelled him a jackass because of his populist views and his slogan “let the people rule”. Jackson decided to go along with it – even using images of a donkey in his campaign ads.
These are fantastic examples of how to turn criticism to advantage and to me, are strongly linked with the promise of strong democratic institutions.
FYI the link to the Wikipedia page is: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States)#Name_and_symbols