New York Magazine recently warned that the 2012 presidential election could be the “ most negative in the history of American politics.” Granted, negative messages have more ways of reaching the American public than ever, with internet and Television advertising. but negative campaigns are an unfortunate tradition of the American political scene.
The New-York Historical Society has a consdierable collection of campaign buttons and other material, though many of our negative campaign buttons are from the FDR elections. Opponent Wendell Willkie and anti-Roosevelt constituents came up with a slew of slogans designed to take down FDR in his (successful) attempt to be elected for a third term. Slogans like “Elect Willkie. Preserve Your Freedom. Be Thankful You Can Still Do It!“, “Roosevelt No More, Just Forget It” and “Vote for Willkie if you want to vote again!” were found on pins and matchbooks. Pins took shots at family members (“We Don’t Want Eleanor Either“) and dramatically compared a third FDR term to a term for Hitler (“No Third Internationale, Third Reich, Third Term“).
Of course campaigns don’t always have to be dirty. This heart-shaped button shows that Clinton and Gore care, and this button urged Americans to continue with Lyndon B. Johnson. But while these buttons signify the candidate’s grace and respect for political discourse, the insulting slogans are just so much more fun.
Have any favorite slogans from campaigns past? Send them to us!