Although the Democratic Party in the United States has never officially adopted the donkey as its symbol, political cartoonists have associated Democrats with the donkey since the mid-19th century. Both Democrats and Republicans have used the association between the donkey and Democrats to their political advantage in campaigns.
During Andrew Jackson's campaign to become president in 1828, his opponents called him a "jackass." Jackson considered himself a man of the people and accused John Quincy Adams of being an elitist. When Adams' campaign called Jackson a jackass, he embraced the imagery, putting donkeys on campaign posters and touting his "stubbornness" as an asset in battling corruption and elitism.
A political cartoonist used a donkey to represent the Democratic party in 1837, but Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist in the 1870s and 1880s, cemented the relationship between the Democratic party and the donkey in his cartoons for Harper's Weekly.
According to the Democratic Party website, Democrats celebrate the donkey for its determined and brave nature, while the Republicans see the donkey as intractable and foolish.
For the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the Democrats chose a live donkey named Mordecai to be their mascot.
Since the mid-1800s, Democrats, both locally and nationally, have used other symbols, such as the rooster and the tiger, but none have had the staying power of the donkey.
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