Although pundits love to say each election season is the nastiest of all time, history buffs and collectors know better. Malicious political campaigns — and their venomous and hilarious slogans — are nothing new in American politics. In honor of this week’s birth-certificate kerfuffle, Collectors Weekly compiled a “best of” list celebrating the most vicious vintage campaign buttons.
A few examples:
• When President Richard Nixon’s promise to bring home the troops from Vietnam didn’t pan out immediately, Tricky Dick’s pacifist religion got a rhyming smack down, “He’s no Quaker, he’s a faker.”
• If Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) thought his car accident at Martha’s Vineyard would be forgotten when he ran for president, the button makers proved him wrong and produced numerous items featuring slogans such as “Kennedy for Lifeguard” and “Nuclear energy is safer than Kennedy’s car!”
• And President Jimmy Carter was blasted on a button with a little potty humor. His face, ringed by a toilet seat, is topped with the words “Time to Flush.”
The buttons are from modern times, but the Founding Fathers had their own nasty name-calling, as this pseudo 1800s attack ad reminded us during the midterms.
Back in the day, John Adams was attacked as a “blind, bald crippled toothless man” and Thomas Jefferson was called “the son of a half-breed Indian squaw” who was, horribly enough, “raised on hoe-cakes.”