Babe the Blue Ox is a special symbol of Minnesota folklore. Stories tell that he was found as a calf by the famous logger Paul Bunyan during a particularly harsh winter. The poor calf had been exposed to the elements for so long that the blue snow permanently stained his fur. Paul took him in from the cold and warmed him, and from that point on, Paul and Babe were inseparable. Babe was a loyal worker for Paul: hauling logs, pulling wagons, and straightening roads and the occasional river. In Paul and Babe's journeys across the north woods, they left many lasting marks upon the face our our state. It's even said that Babe's footprints were so large that when they filled up with rain, they created our 10,000 lakes. Babe's strength, loyalty, perseverance and kindness are truly the stuff of legends. Because of his special status in Minnesota culture and heritage, I propose that the DFL party adopt Babe the Blue Ox as the official state party mascot.
In addition to the history and unique character traits of Babe that make him a suitable mascot for a Minnesota-based political party, oxen in general symbolize qualities that will resonate positively with DFLers. Oxen are symbols of honest work and steady progress, due to their long association with agriculture. Oxen plowed the fields, and their thorough and methodic work laid the foundation for a bountiful harvest in the fall. Oxen were also one of the traditional sacrificial animals, so in Christian symbolism the ox represents strength, service to others and individual sacrifice for the greater good.
While the DFL is the Minnesota branch of the national Democratic Party, the heritage of the Farmer-Labor party cannot be neglected or understated. Because of this, the Farmer-Labor party is particularly evoked through the symbol of the ox: Farmer, due to the agricultural connections mentioned previously, and Labor via both the hardworking nature of the animal and the traditional use of oxen as draft animals by teamsters.
The ox can more generally be perceived as a bull, taking on all the associations that come with that symbol as well: perseverance, protection, passion, stability, wealth. Historically, cattle, including bulls and oxen, have frequently been used as a source of income and a marker of economic security. In economics, a bull market is one where future outlooks are good, investors have confidence, and wealth is expected to increase.
One might argue that by adopting the ox as our party mascot we are opening the party up to attacks of stubbornness and accusations of being “full of bull”. The record should speak for itself: DFLers have frequently shown themselves to be more than willing to compromise—perhaps to a fault, in some cases. Additionally, what looks like stubbornness to one person might well be perceived as conviction and dedication by another. Indeed, on issues where it really matters—protecting the downtrodden and disadvantaged, preserving and strengthening equality of opportunity—stubbornness and bullishness should be encouraged and respected party traits.
In addition to my proposal that the DFL adopt Babe the Blue Ox as the party mascot, I would also like to put forth my recommendation for a new party logo. The new logo includes the familiar “DFL” of the existing logo, but now also includes Babe. The Babe of our logo looks to the left, the side of the political spectrum inhabited by the DFL. Babe is—naturally—blue, the color of the national Democratic party. In the negative space created between the profile of Babe and the “L” in “DFL”, we see the shape of Minnesota. This may not be instantly perceivable, but once seen, cannot be un-seen, providing a stickiness and cleverness to the logo. The logo has the simplicity, elegance, and versatility of a fresh, contemporary logo, and can be applied to a variety of forms: buttons, t-shirts, mailers, web sites. It can work in a single color, which is important for printing costs, and is easily reproducible in any scale, large or small. Most importantly, Babe and the new logo honestly and uniquely reflect the party both as it currently exists and as it aspires to be, while honoring the party's heritage and respect for the state and its citizens.