written by F. Akenews
After nearly 200 years, the Democratic Party is doing a re-branding.
Today on Capitol Hill, in a press conference, Democratic leaders announced a new symbol and an altered name for their party. The Democratic Party will henceforth be known as the American Democracy Party, and its symbol will now be a bald eagle.
“You can still call us Democrats,” laughed Tom Perez, chair of the Committee formerly known as the Democratic National Committee, now known as the American Democracy Party Committee. “Democracy is in the name, and Democrat remains a good name for someone who believes in democracy.”
So, then, why change the name at all?, asked many of the gathered reporters.
“It’s a slight shift of emphasis,” answered Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “We want to remind voters that we stand for little-d democratic solutions, common-sense solutions, the solutions working families have been asking for, fairness and a more even playing field for everyone.”
One reporter asked if the name change had something to do with trying to re-litigate the last election.
“Not re-litigating, no,” answered House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This change is simply standing up for every vote being counted. Everyone, or almost everyone, agrees that last election our democracy was attacked. Our party will be the first to defend the integrity of our next elections.” One can assume that Ms. Pelosi is also referencing her resistance to the Republican push for voter ID laws.
Another reporter asked: is this name change a tacit acknowledgement that the Democratic Party faces historically low approval ratings?
“A little bit,” answered Senator Tim Kaine. “Americans agree with us on most issues, but branding has not been our strong suit. So we listened to the people, and we evolved. With that behind us we can re-focus on what else Americans have told us: fight for them as we have in the past on economic fairness, jobs, health care, education, protecting the environment, and civil and women’s rights.”
Corporations are known to change names with some frequency, for example when Google changed its name to Alphabet. However, the American Democracy Party was known as the Democratic Party because it was relying on its history and legacy. Perhaps the re-branding by the American Democracy Party is asking people to forget the Democratic Party’s historic support of segregation and division.
“This name change can’t distract from their failed party, with failed ideas and with no message,” tweeted President Donald Trump. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added, “This proves that President Trump truly beat them; they’re so desperate, they’ve turned themselves into a minor party.”
In some ways the name change seems like a capitulation to Republicans. In recent decades, Republican have successfully branded ideas from their opposition as “Democrat bills” or “Democrat plans” instead of “Democratic bills,” the “crat” suffix emphasized in order to associate with “bureaucrat” or “autocrat.” Yet if the party is still to be known as Democrats, the change doesn’t address that problem.
On social media, various other names were floated that might have been better options, like “Populists,” “Whigs,” “Churchgoers,” or “Super-Republicans.”
Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News and asked, “Why do they need to use the term American? Are they setting up other Democracy Parties around the world? It’s almost as though they weren’t sure we’d know if they were American or not.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich chimed in on Twitter, “Pretty sure ADP is the company that provides temps; good to know the Dems see themselves as temps.”
At the press conference, a reporter asked if the party is concerned about brand confusion with ADP, the employment services company. Chairman Perez answered, “Does anyone know what that ADP stands for? It’s like ESPN.” After the reporters laughed, Perez continued, “I don’t know any American party known by its abbreviation. Again, we’ll still be known as the Democrats, we’re only reminding you of our commitment to fight for, and answer to, democracy and majority rule.”
The Democratic, or American Democracy, Party has been engaged in its own internecine warfare since badly losing in elections in November. One critic, Jonah Goldberg, called the change a “new paint job on a burning house.”
Political observers point out that Democrats have much more to do to reconcile what have become known as the “Sanders wing” and “Clinton wing” of the Party. It was not entirely clear how the name change would help the reconciliation, although neither side seemed entirely against it. One pro-Clinton commenter said, “At least they’re doing something.” A pro-Sanders commenter said, “I give them credit for thinking outside the box, now they need to do more.”
At press time, it was difficult to find any Democrats skeptical of the new name, in itself a surprising show of unity. However, if the American Democracy Party loses badly in 2018 and 2020, some will blame the name change.
Senator Al Franken added, “In the 19th century, parties changed names all the time.”
A reporter asked Franken, “But after almost 200 years, isn’t the Democratic Party now associated with other American traditions, like the flag and apple pie?”
Senator Franken replied, “Uh, have you seen our new logo?”
The American Democracy Party has removed all donkey imagery from its websites and memoranda, and replaced it with two prominent images. The first is a traditional image of an open-mouthed bald eagle with an olive branch in one claw and a clutch of arrows in the other. The second is a close-up of the latter portion of the first image, which upon inspection appears less like a bird’s claw and more like a human fist holding arrows.
Another reporter asked American Democracy Party leaders, “Is there some symbolism to the yellow fist?”
Chairman Perez replied, “You tell us.”
The raised fist was a 1960s’ symbol of Black Power, famously displayed by winners at the 1968 Olympics. But the yellow hand, while consistent with an eagle’s colors, could be indicative of a larger rainbow coalition (or, considering it’s a cartoon, perhaps merely “The Simpsons”).
One reporter pressed, “The traditional bald eagle image symbolized war on one hand, peace on the other. By emphasizing the war side, are you saying the new Party prefers war to peace?”
Former Speaker Pelosi replied, “I’m glad you asked. The image means much more to us than you suggest. The image invokes a proverb that has been seen in many different societies. But here’s my favorite version of it.”
With that, Ms. Pelosi stepped away from the podium and played a video clip from the movie The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch). In the clip, an older Iowan named Alvin Straight, played by Richard Farnsworth, says,
When my kids were young I played a game with them. I’d give each of them a stick. One for each of ’em, and I’d tell them to break it. They’d do that easy. Then I’d tell them to make one bundle of all the sticks and try to break that. And course they couldn’t. I used to say that was family, that bundle.
As the clip ended, Ms. Pelosi added, “The proverb suggests that we’re stronger when we come together like a family does.”
Although commentators gave mixed reviews to the new Party name, most seemed to agree that the Party was right to change the donkey logo. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said in an email, “The elephant and donkey imagery came from a 19th-century cartoonist named Thomas Nast, in an effort to celebrate Republicans and diminish Democrats as ‘stuck’ in the agricultural past. In retrospect, the question is why the Democratic Party stuck with the ‘stuck’ logo as long as it did.” The eagle is clearly not bound by copyright, as Fox News and Stephen Colbert well know.
President Trump also tweeted, “In a fight, an elephant would destroy an eagle.”