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Published: Sunday, 9/16/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

To The Nines: A lesson in politics

BY RONEISHA MULLEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

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By now, you're probably up to your eyeballs with all the political jibber-jabber that's taken over the airwaves and Internet leading up to the November election.

In just about every speech or commercial, you hear either "Osama bin Laden is dead; General Motors is alive" or "We built it," party catch- phrases that are tossed around at every opportunity. And let's not forget about "Romney Hood" and "Obamaloney."

Now that you're fully informed on all the real issues, we've dug up some nuggets about the political parties that you may not know:

1) Yes, the Democratic Party mascot is a donkey. That's because one of Andrew Jackson's opponents in the 1828 campaign called him a "jackass." But Jackson decided to view the animal as strong-willed and used the image of a donkey on his campaign posters. Editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast used the Democratic donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol famous.

2) An 1874 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a Nast cartoon of a donkey dressed in lion's skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. The elephant was labeled "The Republican Vote." That's all it took for the animal to become associated with the Republican Party.

3. The idea of using opposing colors to represent the two major political parties is a recent development. During the 2000 presidential election, news media used colored maps to depict voter preferences in various states: Republican states were red and Democratic states were blue. It wasn't the first time colors were used to differentiate between states, but it was the first time a standard color scheme took hold. Before 2000, the colors were either reversed or different colors were used.

4. "GOP" dates back to the 1850s and originally stood for the Gallant Old Party, the name Republicans had given themselves after they'd split from the Democratic Party. After the Civil War, the upstart Republicans, who were perceived as the party that won the war, were dubbed the "Gallant Old Party," which soon became the "Grand Old Party," and later shortened to the familiar acronym "GOP."

5. While President Obama and Mitt Romney dominate news headlines, they aren't the only candidates who will appear on the ballot. In July, the Green Party nominated Jill Stein, a physician, as its candidate for president. Founded in 1991, the Green Party emphasizes environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace, and nonviolence, according to its Web site www.gp.org.

6. With more than 282,000 registered members, the Libertarian Party is the third largest party in the country. Founded in 1971, its political platform reflects the ideas of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated markets, strong civil liberties, drug liberalization, civil rights, and separation of church and state. In May, Gary Johnson, a businessman and former governor of New Mexico, received the Libertarian Party's nomination for president.

7. In October, the Socialist Party USA nominated Stewart Alexander, a "working man" as its candidate for president in the 2012 election. According to its Web site, www.socialistparty-usa.net, the party is a democratic socialist organization that sees socialism as "a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production, and community residents control their neighborhoods, homes, and school, and the production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not the private profit of a few."

8. Originally, the terms "left wing" and "right wing" were not used to refer to political ideology, but only to seating in the legislature. The terms came about during the French Revolution of 1789, when the National Assembly divided. Supporters of the king sat to the president's right and supporters of the revolution, to his left. Today, left and right in the United States are generally associated with liberal and conservative views respectively.

9. Since the first election in 1789, there have been 18 Republican Party presidents, 15 Democratic Party presidents, four Whig Party presidents, four Democratic-Republican Party presidents, one Federalist Party president, and one Independent Party president.

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.



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