Library of Congress features memorabilia of campaigns pastPosted by Phillips W. on July 13, 2012
In a few short months, America’s television and radio waves will be overrun with publicity for the 2012 presidential election. Every time Americans flip on the news or a sports broadcast, I can almost guarantee that we will see President Obama and Governor Romney going after each other in carefully crafted commercials.
The Internet won’t be spared, either—Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and even ESPN articles will be hit with a wave of campaign advertising. For better or for worse, the rise of technology has transformed the way presidential campaigns are conducted.
Today, I got a glimpse of what election years were like before the Information Age at the Library of Congress’s presidential campaign memorabilia display. It was very different to see such an emphasis on print advertising—a medium that has become marginalized. Romanticized photographs or portraits highlighted catchy slogans like “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” (William Henry Harrison) and “I Like Ike” (Dwight Eisenhower).
Though flyers and posters are still around, some methods have fallen by the wayside completely. Songbooks and sheet music used to by common on the campaign trail, and the LoC’s collection included colorful tunes like “Everything Will be Rosy with Roosevelt”, “We’ll do it with Dewey”, and my personal favorite, “Turn the Rascals Out”.
As frustrating as they can be and as never-ending as they seem, modern campaign tools, like TV and the Internet, are more beneficial for both the candidate and the electorate. A nominee can get out his message quickly, and voters can debate and fact-check almost as fast. However, the LoC’s exhibition was a great opportunity to see how history’s leaders presented themselves. It was also a reminder that today’s invaluable campaign instruments will someday be viewed by an intern as artifacts in a museum.
Phillips W. is a rising sophomore at Clemson University. He is a summer intern in Jack’s DC office.