by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
i had an uncle that collected political campaign buttons. and when i say ‘collect’, i mean COLLECT! this guy had his entire basement lined with cloth and then proceeded to cover the entire room – floor to ceiling (INCLUDING the ceiling!) with hundreds of thousands of campaign buttons. wonder what happened to that collection when he died? i’ll never know.
if you have an uncle like that, it means that you are probably going to collect campaign buttons, too. i still have a huge crate of the things in my attic that i haven’t looked into for over 30 years. but, my young collecting obsession didn’t end there. being a dumb kid (in 1968, i was 14) i started haunting the various campaign headquarters around town with my friends and STEALING whatever we could sneak out the door – buttons (of course), stickers, posters, signage, bumper stickers, jewelry, pencils, stationery, ashtrays, tshirts, brochures, postcards, whatever we could get our sticky little fingers on. we would ride the public transit bus downtown and visit the storefront headquarters every couple of weeks (just long enough for the volunteer help to change over and forget who we were) and fill our shopping bags with crazy stuff. we even went so far as to steal campaign yard signs from people’s lawns (the inside of our garage was wallpapered with those signs for years).
we had so much of this crap (stacks and stacks and stacks of the same candidate bumper sticker, for instance) that we started to vandalized billboards by literally COVERING the entire image with that candidate’s opponent’s bumper stickers. we thought that was clever stuff back then. hey, i was 14.
1968 was probably the best year for political campaign swag overkill in history. so much loose cash was spent by such big time political hack machines on that crazy political year that we’ve never really come close to it since. after 1968, all that stupid junk (like “humphrey for president” frisbees) just began to cost too much and TV became the main focus. so, 1968 was such a great year to be a little naughty thief in the world’s greatest candy store.
what i show you here is a sheet of “nixon now” campaign stamps. yup, they actually had sheets of these lick and stick stamps made – i assume to place on your envelopes when you mailed out your donation? dunno. but, they are exquisitely made and even pin-hole perforated (hard to find that sort of perforation. trust me on this). so, they look great. i had these framed on the wall of my home for years.
nixon’s people always had the most freudian ‘slip’ style campaign slogans. “nixon now” makes you smile when you see it – LOL! but, the next campaign (1972) was even better “nixon’s the one”!!!! man, talk about irony! even the official name of the nixon campaign committee was a brilliant double-entendre – the Committee To Re-Elect the President. it was generally refereed to by “C.R.E.E.P.” no kidding. amazing, huh? no ad focus group would ever let that get past committee nowadays.
to us old jaded presidential campaign veterans of the past, today’s pickin’s are very very slim. all the money is spent on television advertising. they rarely even make official campaign buttons. and there is precious little ‘obtanium’ (stuff you can steal). but, this year the obama team has hired josh higgins (bassist from the band FLUF) to design all their swag and he’s bringing back so much great collectible classic ideas (and humor) that this year may go down in the collector manuals as a good’n. be sure to get the “obama for pres.” coffee mug with his birth certificate printed on it! you can drink coffee and convince yourself of obama’s citizenship at the same time! brilliant!
nowadays, these “nixon now” stamps just look like so much bad blotter acid.