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The Elephant that was Forgot

Maybe I am reading too much into this. Maybe I am seeing things that aren’t there.

But have you noticed the absence of the Elephant on Republican political campaigns?

Looking primarily at candidate websites, the elephant is not there. Of the four Federal positions currently open for election, I know of 8 different candidates. One of those eight (Merrill Cook) doesn’t seem to have a 2010 campaign site yet. So, looking at the seven Federal Candidates sites, only 2 have an elephant on them.

The two candidates who are displaying an elephant are Representative Jason Chaffetz and Senatorial Candidate Cherilyn Eagar. I do have to give Representative Rob Bishop some credit, he does list himself as a Republican. However, I am hesitant to count that, because a look at his calendar shows that his campaign website probably hasn’t been updated since the 2008 campaign.

Did I miss something? In Utah, I am used to Democrats hiding their party affiliation by not displaying the donkey. I have often found it rather quaint. But this seems like this is the first year in a long time that the elephant has gone extinct in Utah.

As I have reviewed the varying sites, each of the candidates do mention that they are Republicans. Some candidates (i.e., Bob Bennett) don’t mention the Republican Party on the front Page. But most of them (like Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater) at least let us know that they are Republican without having to click through to another page. However, it does require some reading in order to find it. This still doesn’t hold the same wait as a graphic of an elephant.

If I haven’t proven myself totally crazy yet, let’s take a closer look at Senator Bennett’s Campaign Site. I found something rather interesting on there. The “headline” graphic cycles through a few images, that encourage you to learn more or to sign up and help Senator Bennett. One of these images was interesting to me.

Am I seeing things?

Am I seeing a donkey where there isn’t one?

I know that it is supposed to be a picture of a man wearing a tie who is ripping his shirt open with a map of Salt Lake County and Utah County. I suppose it is to show the willingness of people to vote for Bennett. However. If you look on the right hand side, you see that the tie looks kind of like the ear of a donkey, and the arm and elbow look like a donkey’s snout.

How fitting. Don’t you think. But I am getting off topic.

I am not calling for the resurgence of the elephant with this post. I don’t know much about running a campaign. But I find it interesting that when these candidates are seeking the Republican nomination very few of them are showing their party pride.

The real purpose of this post is to explore the reason for the absence of the elephant. I can come up with four possibilities.

The first is a simple oversight. However, with as much thought that goes into any campaign, I can’t believe that the presence of the party mascot would not come up somewhere in a planning meeting, so I doubt that it was just over looked. Especially when more that 70% of the campaign sites don’t have one.

A second reason might be that it is not considered appropriate to use the elephant until you have the official nomination from the party. I haven’t ever heard of this, but it could be a possibility. If you know about the ethics regarding this I would appreciate your incite. However, I currently doubt it is an ethics thing because Senator Bennett doesn’t have an elephant either. But there could be other reasons for that too.

One of the better reasons that I can come up with is what I will call the Scott Brown effect. Scott Brown campaign was very successful. Many current candidates believe that they are trying to catch the Scott Brown wave, and with a lot of additional work, they hope to ride that wave into the election. A look at Brown’s campaign website also shows that there is no elephant.

If this is the reason for the forgotten elephant, then I think that they are sorely mistaken on how to run a Utah campaign. It seems to me that Brown didn’t include the elephant because he is in a blue state. In a blue state, a Republican would want to run a campaign like the Democrats do here in Utah. Such a candidate would want to make his party affiliation as low key as possilbe.

So, that leaves me with the final reason. And perhaps the most likely reason. I believe that the elephant is gone because the Republican Party has failed those who elected them. It is getting to the point that we don’t have a donkey or an elephant any more. We now have a donkephant (or should we say and elephonkey). There isn’t really such a think as a red or a blue party any more. It is just a fuzzy shade of purple.

And these candidates are trying to send the clear message that they aren’t the Republican Party that has betrayed you. They are a new kind of candidate. The kind that will keep the promises made during the campaign.

Again, I am not calling for the elephant to be back on any website or campaign material. I do not wish to condemn those candidates who have placed an republican logo on their campaign literature. I am just simply interested in the reasons behind the forgotten elephant. And I believe it is to send a clear message of a new kind of candidate.

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7 comments to The Elephant that was Forgot

  • So this is what’s important for you when looking for a candidate to support?

    Seriously?

    • I never said that I was making my decision on who to vote for based on this. You are reading way too much into this post. I am simply making an observation. One that I think needs to be made. An observation that I think makes an interesting commentary on the status of politics in America.

      You obviously don’t think it’s that important. And that is fine, that’s the great thing about being in America. We can have different opinions.

  • Personally, I think elephonkey sounds funnier than donkeyphant.

    I looked at the image before I read your post. Oddly enough, my mind did not see a guy ripping open his shirt. In fact, I didn’t see that until I read your post. I saw a donkey right off, and I wasn’t even sure what your post was about.

    As far as the absence of the GOP elephant, I’d probably go with your final suggestion. The pre-primary political season tends to attract grass roots folks that are more ideologically steeped. For the Utah GOP, that means the conservative wing of the conservative wing of the GOP.

    The sentiment that has been sweeping the nation is not strictly an anti-Democrat thing. It’s an anti-establishment thing. Many conservatives detest the GOP establishment only marginally less than they detest the Democratic establishment. That’s true even in Utah. So, I’d say it’s probably safer for a Republican in Utah running in the pre-primary season to appear to be at least somewhat at odds with the GOP establishment.

    Political observers have long known that as Utah moves into the primary season, more people that aren’t as deeply conservative as their more politically active neighbors get involved. That is why anti-Bennett forces had hoped to knock off Sen. Bennett at the state convention. They won’t have a prayer of doing that after the pre-primary season. The trend continues with the general election season being even less ideologically conservative. Still, I’ll bet that even then you will see fewer elephants this year than in previous election cycles. The anti-establishment anger is running pretty deep.

    I realize that the parties are all about developing a brand. But it has always amazed me that the two major parties accepted and built on brands that came from a satirical 19th Century cartoon. Strictly as a matter of packaging, I can’t say that I find either party mascot very appealing.

  • I think some Elephants are ashamed while others are confused as we haven’t emphasized our Party’s Platform. We have been tread on by elephonkies (thanks, Scott) who dominated the party. We drank the lie that in order to win we had to moderate.

  • Scott, you are so much more insightful than I am. Your comments are always appreciated here. When I say the image, i didn’t see the guy ripping off his shirt either. The first think that I could make out was a donkey. I thought it was because I was looking for elephants, that I saw the donkey. Your comments reminded me that I wanted to type that, but it was a tangent, and I didn’t want to go off on it too long.

    As for the branding. I agree I don’t like either. And I think that the branding was placed upon them by the media and not a self-chosen branding. Just like Red and Blue. I don’t like the use of either color for either party, but the media chose it, and we are stuck with it.

    Nacil (can I call you that?), I agree. Too much compromise has lead to a left leaning government. Too far left, and it needs to change.

  • “Nacil” is just fine, thanks. Keep up the good work TG!

  • Pam

    I saw the donkey first, too. Subliminal, surely unintended, but it’s there nonetheless.

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