It’s an odd thing about culture that comparing someone to an animal is considered an insult to the human. I for one, would think it would be the other way round. They would likely be insulted to be compared to once. Politics is a prime example. For the donkey became associated with Democrats in part via Andrew Jackson being called a jackass. As for the elephant, combined with the aforementioned donkey incident, he joined a cartoon by Hurst where the elephant represented a terrified group of Republican voters. Neither animal was attached as a compliment to the party.
So the two main political parties are associated with an animal. The donkey with the Democrats, the elephant with the Republicans. Neither animal, for their part, should likely appreciate the association. Neither party (in general, for there are always exceptions) has put their mascot’s needs anywhere on there ‘things to do’ list.
Republicans (in general) tend to be associated with sport hunting and the like. I’ve seen numerous signs for this lately. Now when I think of killing an animal for sport, images of buffalo herds wiped out spring to mind. I don’t think disagree with killing animals for food, but I do have doubts about killing for sport. It seems dangerous – for ‘sport’ implies fun and killing should not be fun. Democrats (in general) don’t have any such obvious associations. However since their own mascot is the donkey, you’d think they would notice the cruelty inflicted by their own government on them. But no, nary a word is said..
How does this relate, you may wonder? Well, it’s not directly sport but sheer greed that kills animals, a desire to put human wants above nature’s needs. Ivory from their tusks gets them slaughtered and habitat reduction (big animal needs big habitat) reduces their numbers even more. The latter is, at least, understandable as a byproduct of sharing space with humans. As for the donkey, the wild version roams in several places. One of those is our National Parks. The response of the park service is to label these lovable creatures, such an undervalued and important bit of our history, vermin. In reality, they wipe them out to make room for the animals sport hunters prefer in order to lure them to the park. Also Republicans are associated with big cattle and mining lobbies. Is it a coincidence these are the ones who want the wild horses and burro (AKA donkey) off the Federal range land for their own cattle? Or that mining and alternative energies are also on this land and accessing them will affect the wild creatures – including wild born horse and burros – water supply.
Nor have either side (in general) remarked on the fact that the Wild Burro (AKA donkey) is also a protected species on Federal lands, and yet the very agency designed to protect them is rounding them up to extinction even faster than the wild mustangs. Have they done anything? Not a comment from the President or the party so far as I can tell.
Obviously neither party is asking the animals what they think. In fact, they don’t even ask most Americans. They just pretend it isn’t happening and keep doing the magicians trick: keep the public attention focused somewhere else. Don’t ask about the corruption and bias, then we’d have to deal with it and go against these large groups funding our campaigns.
Animals and Perspective
Finally, while I love the eagle as mascot, it’s also associated with the Roman empire and it’s fall, as well as pride and arrogance. Whenever I see the politicians up there making over bloated promises that they can’t keep – for they promise individual action on what takes a whole congress to decide, usually – I wonder how it translates into other languages. I know it’s hyperbole and it still turns me off. No wonder other nations think us arrogant, if this is their example. We set out to elect a leader, but our choices are usually limited to someone whose parroting the party line or their supporters. Is their an individual in there? With conviction and courage? Do they believe what they say and have a plan, whether I agree or not? Or are they just a puppet for a party?
I’ll finish by pointing out I’m not a ‘party’ person. I tend to vote the individual, which is increasingly difficult. Nor do I disagree with hunting. There is a danger at anything that encourages enjoyment of killing for fun, especially when there are so many other ‘shooting’ sports that exist without the need to kill. What I am is an animal lover. I believe animals bring out the best in us. They inspire us in their wild state. They comfort us when domestic. They heal the sick or injured in therapy programs. And yes, they even put food on the table.
Why does a politicians view of animals matter?
Animals reflect the best and the worst of us and this is why I look at a groups stance on the animal issues. Don’t care whether horses are slaughtered for consumption? Well, whatever your opinion of the horses place – livestock or companion – a politician should care that his citizens are exposed to meat full of medicines that cause Aplastic Anemia in people. Local politicians, at least, have let the people trying to promote it that they don’t want the environmental fall out in their town.
The same is true of the Bureau of Land Management and the wild horse and burro issues. You don’t have to care about wild horses or bureaus. You don’t even have to care about the range. What everyone – and certain every politician, who is supposed to support his citizens – should care about is the tremendous amount of wasted tax payer money, the suspicious lack of oversight and scientific evidence to support their claims. In a time when jobs are short and the economy a wreck, how can they afford to just ignore this?
The Animals View
Ultimately, I think it should be the animals who are insulted. We are supposed to be the dominant species, the wise, intelligent ones, with empathy and an ability and imagination to see things as others see them. Yet in these areas animals have been known to put us the shame. From the elephant who gets stuck and the whole herd who gathers around to help to the wild stallion who defends his mares and challenges the helicopter, they never put greed above the lives of their own. They aren’t perfect: they kill each other, fight, and there are rogues even among the animal world. But then, we are supposed to be the smart ones, the ones better than that. The shame of it is, we don’t act like it.
Big Bend Texas Burros Shot (offsite PDF at Save our Wild Horses.org)