What makes the elephant Republican– and how are donkeys related to Democrats? We learn how these symbols became associated with the major political parties. We find out about a program in Green Bay that trains crisis responders on how to approach cases involving Alzheimer’s patients. We also learn about a new study indicating African Americans may have a higher risk of getting the disease. And, we look at what this year’s bumper corn and soybean crops, but low market prices, mean for Wisconsin farmers
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WI Farmers Expect Bumper Crops, But Battle Low Market Prices
Wisconsin corn and soy farmers are expecting bumper crop yields this year. But, market prices have also dipped to a historic low. A look at the state of the Wisconsin corn and soy harvest and what it means for farmers and consumers.
How The U.S. Political Parties Got Their Symbols
Both Republicans and Democrats have animal symbols–and elephant and donkey, respectively–associated with their parties. We’ll learn about the history of the the symbols, why they have them, and why they’re still used today. Historian Ken Davis joins us to give us the low down.
How Did The US Political Parties Get Their Mascots?
The donkey and the elephant have been the long-serving animal mascots of the United States’ two major political parties, but how did the animals become such iconic symbols of American democracy?
The Democrats’ donkey is the older of the two symbols, said historian Ken Davis, author of “Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.” The donkey emerged in 1828 as a kind of insult towards the famously stubborn Democrat Andrew Jackson.
“Andrew Jackson was called a jackass. But he kind of liked it and adopted ‘Jackass Jackson’ as a name,” Davis said. “He was quite comfortable with that idea. And it was not long before the donkey became established as the symbol of the Democratic Party.”
The GOP’s elephant came along years later. The Republican Party wasn’t founded until 1854 in Ripon. The Republican Party grew out of splintered groups that had fractured over the years, including the Whig Party, the Know Nothing Party and other abolitionist coalitions.
“The idea of the elephant was actually discussed at that time, but the image didn’t really come about until the 1870s,” Davis said. “And it’s really Thomas Nast, the famous American political cartoonist who really firms up both of these images in his cartoons, and they become completely linked with the two separate parties by that point.”
The elephant rose to prominence thanks, in part, to a widely used expression during the Civil War led by President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. Soldiers entering battle were said to be “seeing the elephant.”
But it was Nast who really created the first and lasting versions of both animal mascots. The political cartoonist, a Republican himself, skewered the Democratic political machine known as Tammany Hall centered in New York. But it was Nast’s early drawings of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam that really catapulted him to fame.
For the most part, both major parties have continued to stick with their mascots. However, Davis said there was the time that someone tried to re-brand the Democratic Party with a fox, but that never stuck.
Wisconsin Researchers Looks At Alzheimer's Risks In African-Americans
A large Wisconsin study of Alzheimer’s disease in African-Americans is evaluating modifiable risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, neighborhood stress and psychological conditions that could play a role in the disease. The researcher carrying out the study talks about why she aims to recruit 500 middle-aged African-Americans to participate in this long-term project.
New Grant Helps Northeastern Wisconsin Address Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Earlier this fall the Behavioral Health Training Partnership at UW-Green Bay received a $95,000 grant to help improve understanding and crisis response to people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We talk to a representative of the partnership about what kind of work they do and how they plan to use this grant.
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- Marika Suval Producer
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- Kate Archer Kent Producer
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- Kenneth C. Davis Guest
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