Political Symbols

Last updated on October 31, 2022

My wife and I have been watching a lot of stand-up comedy lately. It’s an interesting little corner of the streaming world that we’ve wandered into. I’d say it’s a bit out of character for us to set up camp in this particular corner, but it’s been a fun stay so far.

There’s a certain joy in laughing out loud at stuff that’s actually meant to be funny. As opposed to stuff that’s meant to be serious, I mean. For instance: I get the feeling that I’m not supposed to be laughing out loud when watching midterm political debates and interviews with esteemed ‘elected’ officials and whatnot. But laugh I do.

Speaking of both stand-up comedy and politics, we just recently watched an old Jerry Seinfeld bit where he was questioning the mascot choices of the Democratic and Republican parties. You know, the donkey and the elephant. Seinfeld was rhetorically asking why, out of all the awesome creatures in the world would the political parties choose a jackass and a dumb circus animal? It was typical Seinfeld logic and delivery at play: simple questioning of the obvious in order to point out silly absurdities.

Funny stuff. Really funny. It made me and my wife laugh out loud. Just as intended.

But then I got to thinking: I really do wonder why the elephant and donkey were chosen as symbols for the two dominant political parties in our country. Doesn’t it seem a little odd, if you stop to think about it?

Origin Story

If you do a quick Google scrape, you’re sure to come across an origin story similar to this synopsis:

“Both political symbols (the elephant for Republicans, and the donkey for Democrats) were created by the German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist, Thomas Nast, during his tenure at Harper’s Weekly magazine, which ran from 1862 to 1886. Editorial cartoonists like Nast were clever satirists, who used their sharp wit to cut to the heart of political matters.

Nast’s particular genius led him to characterize Republicans as elephants – dull, lumbering behemoths that don’t have enough sense to get out of their own way, and Democrats as donkeys – stubborn beasts of burden that are naturally inclined to behave like . . . well . . . jackasses.

Other political cartoonists and satirists picked up Nast’s ball and ran with it, from around 1880 onward. And then, nearly a century and a half later, we can see that the old elephant and donkey have remained with us, having been accepted – and then embraced – by the two political parties, thus cementing the Elephant-Republican and Donkey-Democrat associations.”

Cartoonist or Propagandist?

If you poke around a little further, you’ll find that the above synopsis just ain’t so. You’ll find that the legend of Nast can’t possibly hold water.

You’ll likely discover that, for some reason or other, Nast has had all sorts of image creation credits bestowed upon him and stripped away from him over the years. For example: Some say that Nast created the modern (visual) version of Santa Claus, but some say he didn’t. The same goes for a number of other iconic images/symbols such as Uncle Sam, Columbia, and, yes, the Republican Elephant and the Democratic Donkey.

As of today, October 29, 2022, Wikipedia asserts that Nast was indeed the guy behind Santa Claus and the Republican Elephant, but that Nast should not be credited for Uncle Sam, Columbia, or the Democratic Donkey. But stay tuned. That story is subject to change at any time. There’s no doubt that Nast was a key contributor to America’s visual culture, but to what extent remains a little squishy.

Could this be because Thomas Nast was actually a propagandist, and, as such, his legacy remains tethered to the changing winds?

In an interesting side note, a while after his stint at Harper’s concluded, Thomas Nast was offered an appointment as the Consul General to Guayaquil, Ecuador, by then President Theodore Roosevelt. Legend has it that this was because Republican Teddy was a big fan of Nast’s political cartoons. Who knows? Maybe that’s true. Maybe Teddy liked elephants in the same way he liked bears: Cuffed and stuffed. Anyway, Nast accepted the position and traveled to Ecuador on July 1, 1902. Nast allegedly contracted yellow fever down there and croaked five months later. Hmmm.

I have to say, old Nast would probably be a good subject for a deeper TPD-style dive at some point. Quite the interesting character was he. But for now, let’s just say that while Nast probably helped popularize the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey, he certainly didn’t originate either one of them as political symbols. That’s easily evidenced by political cartoons such as those shown just above from times before Nast. These examples of elephant and donkey political art are from 1832, 1837, and 1861, respectively. I wonder if I should I submit this to the Wikipedia folks so they can keep tinkering with Nast’s digital biography? Nah.

So, if Nast didn’t originate the Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey, then who did?

It doesn’t really matter. What matters is why they did so. What matters is what these animals represent esoterically.

Sign of the Times

Even if we accept that Nast was carrying a torch that was lit by others who came before him, one might continue to suppose that these animal cartoons were still created by satirists to mock the political parties’ worst characteristics.

But, ask yourself: Based on this premise, isn’t it a little odd that both of the major American political parties came to embrace their mocking mascots so enthusiastically? Did they simply have a big laugh about it and then decide “no hard feelings!” and/or “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?”

Wouldn’t it make a little more sense if the political parties chose their own mascots and then had their propagandists (political cartoonists in the press) popularize them?

In order for this admittedly conspiratorial premise to be true, you’d only need to accept two things.

First, you’d have to accept that people in the government back in the early days of this country were in the business of persuading people in the press to do their bidding. Now, that doesn’t seem to stretch the imagination too far, does it?

Second, you’d have to believe that people in the government back in the early days of this country had knowledge of and interest in occult animal symbolism and whatnot. This one might stretch the imagination a bit. I get that. I may not be able to demonstrate to you that this is true, so I won’t do too much arm waving about it. Instead, I’ll just share what I’ve come to believe after many decades of poking into this kind of thing: I believe this country’s founders not only had such occult knowledge – but that they basked in symbolism whenever and wherever they could. [If you’d like an example, here’s one that’s actually gained some traction in mainstream circles in recent years: Washington D.C.’s physical layout and architecture is awash in occult (Masonic) symbolism centered around the astrological House of Virgo.]

So, I have to go ahead and ask this question: Why would the same “illuminated” people who went to such great pains – to control the press, to infuse occult symbolism into the design of cities, buildings, and statues, etc. – allow proletariat cartoonists to choose the animals that would represent their precious political parties?

Animal House

To answer my own question: They wouldn’t. They would choose their own political party symbols and make darn sure that the selected animals would have two faces – a public perception face and an occult face. This way, what the masses saw as mockery would actually be flattery to those in the know.

Below is a little supporting evidence for this premise. The esoteric bullet points have been drawn largely from one of my favorite reference books on occult symbolism, J.C. Cooper’s An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols.

Elephant symbolism for the masses (circa 1800):

  • Dimwitted; Not enough sense to get out of its own way
  • Lumbering behemoth; Sometimes crushing things without knowing it
  • A giant who’s afraid of a little mouse
  • A foreigner; An outsider

Esoteric elephant symbolism:

  • Bathing (purifying oneself) in the river and invoking the heavens
  • Attribute of Mercury as intelligence; Wisdom
  • Strength (supporting the World); Vehicle of the gods
  • (Christ) trampling the serpent underfoot

Donkey symbolism for the masses (circa 1800):

  • Stubborn
  • Beast of burden
  • Bad behavior (acting like an ass)
  • Associated with lower classes and poverty (as when compared with horses)

Esoteric donkey symbolism:

  • Fertility
  • Representation of the Egyptian god, Set, in his typhonic aspect
  • Inert power; Evil; Filth; Satanic connotations
  • Sacred beast to the Greek/Roman god Cronos/Saturn

In my opinion, what’s really interesting about the above is that both animals, as symbols, had overtly negative public-facing connotations in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were first put forth as political party symbols. That makes them ideal choices for supposed satirists. Meaning: Political cartoons using these animals would appear to the masses to be mockeries.

Another interesting aspect is that, from an esoteric perspective, the donkey (the ass) is overtly dirty and demonic, while the elephant is overtly clean and good. This gives rise to at least two layers of occult meaning. In the first occult layer, we have what appears to be opposing (and possibly balanced) forces – which would be suitably symbolic for two contesting political parties. A second, underlying occult layer reveals that both political symbols are aligned on the side of evil.

This comes about because the poor old elephant is always getting tagged with inversion symbols when it’s used in official political contexts, thus flipping all the esoteric meanings upside down, such that “Bathing (purifying oneself) in the river and invoking the heavens” becomes inverted to mean “soiling oneself and invoking hell,” and so on.

Don’t believe me? Up until the 1960s, the Republican Elephant was typically “branded” with cryptic writing and/or with the letters, G.O.P., which were claimed to stand for “Grand Old Party,” but were more likely letters for a (Masonic?) inversion code of some sort. (I invite you to comment below if you have any insight into what GOP might actually stand for!) Then came the pentagrams (upside-down satanic stars), which are still in use today in the official Republican Elephant logo. It’s a popular misconception that the Republican Elephant’s stars were flipped upside down into pentagrams after Bush was elected in 2000 – but that’s simply not the case. The pentagrams were adopted around the time of the JFK reset, and remain “hidden in plain sight” to this day.

So, at the end of the day, it appears that the political symbols for both the Republicans and the Democrats are intended to represent dark forces at work. We’re not looking at Donkeys and Elephants. We’re looking at two very similar Creatures from the Black Lagoon.

Phil’s Two Cents

I’ve previously weighed in on the false dichotomy of Democrats versus Republicans, so my conclusions on this topic should come as no surprise to TPD readers and listeners. When we take a good look at the two predominant political parties in this country, I contend that we’re looking at a carefully constructed illusion of choice.

So, what good does it do to point this out? I’d like to think that writing and speaking about this can help people in some sort of practical way. For example: In about a week, 34 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are being “contested” in regular elections. The “winners” will, of course, serve for six years in the U.S. Congress (from January 3, 2023, to January 3, 2029). The media would have you believe that this is some sort of big deal. But I think it’s helpful to be aware that this “election” exercise is a complete and total farce. I think this awareness can help us to think outside the box and decide whether or not to continue to participate in this decidedly rigged game.

There’s no better example right now to prove that we’re being gamed than the U.S. Senate “race” in Pennsylvania. One of two guys is going to get “elected” as a Senator there: John Fetterman (Democrat, Donkey) or Mehmet Oz (Republican, Elephant). If it’s Fetterman, it means that Pennsylvanians will be represented by a cognitively disrupted, technology-assisted/handled atheist who loves Israel and fracking. If it’s Oz, it means that Pennsylvanians will be represented by an Oprah-aligned television personality who’s a Turkish (dual) citizen, a Muslim, and who loves Israel and fracking. Talk about mockery. Witness the two dancing clowns in the center ring.

I often hear people say that elections feel a lot like choosing between the lesser of two evils. Subtract the words “the lesser of” and I think that’s correct. Let the symbols speak.

– “Phil”


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