Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Slogans Through the Ages

I still can't really believe it. I keep checking the news, expecting some one to demand a recount in Ohio, or complain about biting ballots in Florida. The highest office in the land is one of my favorite things, and only partially because of the endlessly amusing trivia that it provides. I'm excited about our new President. Obama is so smart and collected and balanced, it seems as if I can be proud of the government again. And even if he is unable to live up to my expectations (which are high) at least there will be glamorous photo shoots of the Obama family with their new dog to look forward too.

This campaign has crippled me with worry. What a crazy race, what a peculiar American tradition. The New Yorker had a really good article about the birth of the American Presidential campaign. George Washington seems to have run on the platform of "Oh, I seem to be the only one, don't I?" And until Andrew Jackson, campaigning as we know it was non existent. "Keeping with the tradition of the first five American Presidents, Adams (running against Jackson) considered currying favor with voters to be beneath the dignity of the office, and believed that any man who craved the Presidency ought not to have it." We all know how that worked out. So, in the interest of capitalist democracy, I decided to compile a list of all the Campaign slogans.

1840
William Henry Harrison VS. Martin Van Buren
William "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" " Harrison seems to have coined the first campaign slogan. Van Buren, already having been president for 4 years after Jackson with no such rhyming craziness, seems to have been shocked into defeat.

1844
James K. Polk VS. Henry Clay
"Reannexation of Texas and Reoccupation of Oregon" Vs "Who is James K. Polk?"
Polk's technique of putting "Re" in front of things that were otherwise really boring beat out Clay's weird rhetorical question. (He's the guy debating you, you moron!)

1848
Zachary Taylor VS Lewis Cass
Taylor's "For President of the people" beat Lewis Cass handily. On the other hand, Lewis Cass wasn't very good at his job.

1852
Franklin Pierce VS. Winifield Scott
"We Polked them in ’44, We’ll Pierce them in ’52" VS "Old Fuss and Feathers"
My all time favorite slogan, a pun that involves violence, way won out over having a weird nickname that makes voters think of angry geese.

1856
James Buchannan VS. John C. Fremont VS. Millard Fillmore
In this election, the third party candidate may have only won about .08 electoral votes, but he won best slogan by a mile:
"Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, and Fremont." Buchanan and Fillmore were so awed that "Fremont" had "Free" in it, they couldn't even think of a slogan. ("Fill more mills with Millard Fillmore?"... No...)

1860
Abraham Lincoln VS. A Bunch of Crazies
"Vote Yourself a Farm" VS. incoherent screams
Isn't that funny? I don't remember Abe's presidency having much to do with farms.

1864
Abraham Lincoln Vs. George B. McClellan
Lincoln's "Don't swap horses in the middle of the stream" was met with a "what can I say, I think he's right" from Mr. McClellan. That and McClellan was kind of a bad general.

After Abe was shot and the Andrew Johnson messed up really badly, there was a short break in campaign slogans. Ulysses S. Grant's could've been "I won the civil war, DUH" but he wasted the opportunity. Rutherford B. Hayes and James A. Garfield were similarly uninspired, probably realizing they were the presidents every one was most likely to forget about.

1884
Grover Cleveland VS. James Blaine
Well, after a dry spell Cleveland and Blaine brought it back, with absurd limerick raps that bring delight to history students to this day. "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine!" cried Cleveland. "Oh yeah?" said Blaine, "well, your Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha." In short, it was the most awesome presidential race ever. Candidates should all be forced to debate in rhyming couplets.

1888
Benjamin Harrison VS. Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison beat Cleveland with "Rejuvenated Republicanism," probably because everyone fell asleep just thinking about the phase "Rejuvenated Republicanism". Then everyone forgot about Harrison because he was boring and re-elected Cleveland in 1892, because even if he sucked at making slogans, at least his first name was "Grover."

1896
William McKinley VS. William Jennings Bryan
McKinley's "Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity" handily beat William Jennings Bryan's "In a couple of years I'm going to try and disprove Darwin's theory of evolution in a really weird, crazy and public way!"

1900
William McKinley VS. William Jennings Bryan
McKinley was obviously feeling confident, because his slogan, "A Full Dinner Pail" is complete nonsense.

Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and first term Woodrow Wilson seem to have still been pondering "A Full Dinner Pail" (a dinner pail? what is that? isn't it supposed to be lunch pail? full of what? full of whiskey? So many questions, so few answers) So they didn't think up anything new.

1916
Woodrow Wilson VS Theodore Roosevelt VS William Howard Taft VS. Eugene V. Debs
Woodrow Wilson's slogan, "He kept us out of war" turned out great, especially because as soon as he was re-elected, we went to war!

1920
Warren G Harding VS. James M. Cox
Harding played hard defense here, coming up with both "Return to normalcy" and "Cox and Cocktails." I never want things to be normal, and I love cocktails, so these slogans should have worked against Harding. Cox could have turned it around- "That's right! Vote for Cox and get a cocktail!" Of course, this was in the middle of Prohibition, so that probably wouldn't have worked out.

1924
Calvin Coolidge VS John W. Davis
"Keep it Cool with Coolidge!" Yeah, that is pretty cool! It didn't make him any more memorable as a president, though.

1928
Herbert Hoover VS Al Smith
"A chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage" and a cushion on every chair and a lover in every bed and whiskey in every bottle! But then the great depression happened, so there was a hobo on every street.

FDR seems to have eschewed slogans, but he had some witty sayings, like the New Deal. Okay, that's not that witty. But FDR is still pretty cool. He don't need no slogans. Harry S. Truman was also sloganless, but I think this would be a good one- "Tough times need a Tru-Man!" Hehe!

1952
Dwight Eisenhower Vs Adalai Stevenson
"I like Ike" I didn't think "Ike" was a nickname for "Dwight." Do you think its a nickname for his last name? Do people usually have nicknames for their last names? More mysteries. Even though this slogan rhymes, its kind of inane.

1956
Dwight Eisenhower VS Adlai Stevenson
"Peace and prosperity"-- more boring slogans from Ike, and this one doesn't even rhyme. Adlai must have been pissed that he kept losing.

1960
John F. Kennedy Vs Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon's was "For the Future." JFK's was "I'm really hot, and so is my wife!" Okay, I made that up.

1964
Lyndon B. Johnson VS Barry Goldwater
"The stakes are too high for you to stay at home" said LBJ. "In your heart you know he's right," said Barry Goldwater. Its obvious why LBJ won, because, who even was Goldwater talking about? You know who's right? LBJ? Aren't you running against him?

1968
Richard Nixon Vs. Hubert Humphrey
"Nixon's the One" Yes, yes, Nixon is the one who would bring ruin on the white house. Hubert Humphrey is the one with an awesome alliterative name.

1972
Richard Nixon VS George McGovern
There were no slogans in this race, instead, the candidates mud wrestled! Okay, I made that up too.

1976
Jimmy Carter VS Gerald Ford
"Not Just Peanuts!" said Jimmy Carter. "You mean we get cashews too?" said the American public. "Awesome!" "He's Making Us Proud Again," said Gerald Ford. "He's making who proud?" the American Public asked.

1980
Ronald Reagan VS Jimmy Carter
"Are you Better Off than you were Four Years Ago?" asked Ronald Reagan. People scratched their heads and thought really hard about that one. They were thinking so hard, they forgot to vote. Jimmy Carter, busy fighting off an army of swamp rabbits, declined to comment.

1984
Ronald Reagan VS Walter Mondale
"It's Morning Again in America!" Nobody wanted to tell him the sun also came up during Carter's presidency.

1988
George H. W. Bush VS. Michael Dukakis
George H. W. Bush wanted a "Kinder, Gentler Nation." You know, I might make fun of this, (a kinder, gentler nation full of xenophobic nut jobs??!!) but just having spent the last 8 years with his son, I can say it was, indeed, a kinder, gentler nation back then.

1992
Bill Clinton VS George H.W. Bush VS Ross Perot
Bill Clinton courted the votes of Fleetwood Mac fans everywhere, with his sing songy slogan. "Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow." Ross Perot inspired general awe for his craziness, summed up best by his slogan: "Ross for Boss".

1996
Bill Clinton VS Bob Dole
"Building a Bridge to the 21st Century" VS "The Better Man for a Better America"
That bridge was a bridge to no where! I said it. I tried not to, but I had to.

2000
George W. Bush VS Al Gore
"Compassionate Conservatism" won, because people didn't know what it meant. Scary republicans were going to go to war with random countries, over turn Roe V. Wade and beat people in the streets. And yet they called in compassionate? Did they apologize after throwing rocks through your windows? Gore's "Prosperity and Progress" was much less intriguing.

2004
George W. Bush VS John Kerry
"Yes, America Can!" said George W. Bush. "Yes, America can actually elect an overzealous, incompetent, inarticulate war mongering freak to for a second term!" "Hey now!" said Kerry, "Let America be America Again!" "No!" said Bush. And it was not to be so.

2008
Barak Obama VS John McCain
Well, personally, I am very glad that "The Change we Need" won out over "Drill, Baby, Drill." I would much rather have health care than an infant with a power tool. I'm just saying.

4 comments:

Fiberista Nora said...

Woah now. I mean... I always new that campaign slogans were inane... but I had no idea just how inane! I think this whole contemporary "patriotism" (did someone say jingoism? oh wait, that was me) thing has warped my sense of history. I sort of picture all the past presidents as stoic and patriotic to the extreme... instead, they sound like a bunch of total lunatics.

I'd love to hear you make up some campaign slogans for some of the best races! You=the funniest. Always.

Crush Comics said...

I almost peed myself reading this.

I love you.

Crush Comics said...

uh, that was me.

--Lucy

Gardener said...

Very funny and practically educational! I can (barely) remember another rhyming slogan: "Eisenhower had the power, Nixon's got it too." Even to a kid with Republican parents Goldwater seemed like a fruitcake and the usual response to his slogan was: "Yeah, WAY right!". Your hat is awesome.