Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson

This past two weeks, if not the past year, American television has been jammed with programming, day to night and then some, concerning the soap opera that is the selection of the candidates for President and Vice-President for both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. So I have gathered a little information for background as you face the continuing adventures of Fun with The Donald and Hillary RC.

We don’t select our leaders this way, so it’s an experience for Canadians that started about two years into the second four-year term of Barak Obama. In the last year it picked up speed and now, just four months before the election, the heat has really been turned up on the wall-to-wall 24/7 media coverage. It seems that all other news must stop and wait until after everyone in the US has been interviewed, either on the street or on a panel of pundits, commentators and everyone else from dogcatcher to the national Frisbee champion.

This season it’s been like watching a slow-motion train crash. You can pretty much figure what’s going to happen, but this Reality TV has a compelling aspect to it only superseded by the latest release of Pokemon Go.

To Canadians, the American colour coding of TV Map Graphics is quite confusing. In Canada the Conservatives are traditionally blue and the Liberals are bright red. The opposite is true in the US where Republican States are red (imagine that happening in the time of Senator Joseph McCarthy) and the Democratic states are Blue. These colour codes only became universally accepted in the year 2000, yet it seems as if it was always this way.

In Canada we see red for Liberal, dark blue for Conservative, orange and black for the New Democrats, Quebec blue for the Bloc Quebecois and Green for the…Greens.

(imagine) much more creative!

The colour red did creep into the Conservative side of the house, when some members of the Conservative party were labeled as Red Tories. They were the members with conservative principles, who also supported some liberal and socialist parties. Leaving some true-blue Tories red-faced, and some red Tories with a case of the blues.

One question I couldn’t answer recently, concerned how the various political perspectives and their proponents were marshaled into right and left wing designations. In most countries, political parties are generally identified with their policies a being left wing (more liberal or socialist) or right wing (more toward conservative views). How did it get that way?

We’ll drop this one at the door of the French General Assembly. It’s about the way they allocated seating for the parties in the chamber. Those supporting the political ideals “inspired by the Enlightenment” (presumably progressive in nature) were seated on the left. The supporters of the old regime, (likely conservative by nature) were seated at the right hand of the President of the Assembly.

Now – pack your trunk and get your ass in gear!

Democats have the donkey for a mascot, which resulted from a political cartoon that stuck. In Andrew Jackson’s 1828 presidential campaign, some of his opponents called him a jackass. But rather than reject the label, Jackson, a hero of the War of 1812 who later served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, was amused by it and included an image of the animal in his campaign posters. In the 1870s, influential political cartoonist Thomas Nast helped popularize the donkey as a symbol for the entire Democratic Party.

Republicans embraced the Elephant. The image of the elephant for the Republican Party also arose from at least one political cartoon and a newspaper illustration during the Civil War but didn’t become the GOP (Grand Old Party) symbol until cartoonist Thomas Nast, drew the cartoon in Harper’s Weekly in 1874. Nest continued to use the elephant as a symbol of Republicans in other cartoons as did other cartoonists, and finally it stuck.

As for Thomas Nast, his work primarily concerned politics, but has also been credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus.  Will it be presents or lumps of coal in November?

Ho Ho HO, and have you been good little children, Donald and Hillary? Play nice now!